Tuesday, March 28

Lawmakers Adopt Report On Prevention, Prohibition Of Torture Bill

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By: Kebba AF Touray

Members of the National Assembly yesterday Monday adopted the report of the legislative Committee on Human Rights, regarding the “prohibition and prevention of torture” bill 2020.

The bill was tabled during the Fifth Legislature and was referred to the committee by the plenary, during its sitting of Tuesday 21st July 2020. Laying the report before his fellow members, the Chairperson of the said Committee Hon. Madi Ceesay said the word  “torture” in Clause 3 of the Act means “any act or omission by which severe pain or suffering whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person by or at the instigation of, or with the consent or acquiescence of any person, whether acting in an official or private capacity, for such purposes.” The purpose he said include obtaining information or confession from a person, or punishing a person for an act he or she or any other person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or of planning to commit and or to intimidate or coerce a person or any other person to do such act.

Hon. Ceesay said the committee recommended that the word “of” be deleted in sub-section 1 (B) to be read as: “punishing that person for an act he or she or any other person has committed, or is suspected of having committed or planning to commit”; that notwithstanding  Section 5 where it is proved that at the time of, or immediately before or after the commission of torture, the:

offender uses or threatens to use or used a deadly weapons;
offender uses or sued sex as a mean of torture;
victim was a person with disability;
victim was pregnant or becomes pregnant;
victim died;
victim was subjected to medical experiments;
victim acquires HIV/AIDS;
victim was under the age of eighteen years;
victim is incapacitated;
act of torture is recurring, and
offender commits any act which court considers aggravating,

the offender and any other person jointly connected with the commission of an act of torture is liable on conviction, to life imprisonment.

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He said the committee recommended addition of the phrase ‘other communicable diseases’ in sub-section (g) to be read as: “victim acquires HIV/AIDS or other communicable diseases”.

On consent of the Attorney General requiring the prosecution of non-citizens, he said Clause 20 of the bill states that a person who is not a citizen of the Gambia shall not be prosecuted for an offence under this act except with the consent of the Attorney General.

“The committee recommended the heading of this Section as “20-Consent of Attorney General” required for prosecution of non-citizens,” he said.

On extradition or deportation where a person is likely to be tortured as indicated in sub-sections 1 and 2  of Clause 23 of the bill, he said the committee recommended (2) notwithstanding sub-section (1) and said under the provisions of the Extradition Act, a person shall not be extradited or deported from the Gambia to another state if there are substantial grounds to believe that he or she is likely to be in danger of being subjected to torture.

Lawmakers adopted the report stating that it will supplement the efforts and objectives of the bill to prevent and prohibit torture.

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