Says former colonial master lacks “moral authority” to dictate “moral standards” to former colonies.
The Government of The Gambia on Thursday said Britain has no “moral authority to dictate moral standards of rectitude and democracy to any former colony in Africa” in reaction to the annual human rights report of the United Kingdom.
The report, published by United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on human rights and democracy stated the harassment of journalists, closure of media houses without explanation; unlawful detentions, the August 2012 execution of nine death row prisoners, and the detention of 20 people on homosexual grounds.
However, the government said it considers the FCO report an insult to sovereignty, dignity, culture and or religion “for an agenda imposed by foreign interests that will …. turn The Gambia, a Muslim country, into a sinful, abominable and disobedient country by allowing values that are of the greatest threat to human existence” such as homosexuality.
The Gambia recalls European injustice and destruction of life which has left catastrophic consequences on rapid development and self realisation of the Gambia and its people going into the 21st century.
“The evidence leaves many countries in the European Union, especially Britain, without the m
oral authority to dictate moral standards of rectitude and democracy to any former colony in Africa,” it said.
It urged “the UK government to look comparatively inwardly and consider the many incidences of decisions and actions taken against the press and those also encroaching on the liberties of individuals and conglomerates which do not serve the common British or common human interests at home and abroad”.
It argued that the issues on media do not take the standard of professionalism and technical prowess of radio and print journalists in The Gambia, which are long strides behind the professional, corporate, and technical levels of the industry in the UK.
“All the issues highlighted in the FCO report on the death penalty, detentions, censure of newspapers and radio stations, the sanctioning of voices intent on social destabilisation are soon remedied by consultation, collaboration and support to practitioners in the development of self-regulatory organisms and improved standards rather than the apparently more desired effect of the all-out blackmailing of the government while the abundant signs of progress and growth are ignored by the media and some others who are supposed to be partners in our development,” the statement said.
With specific mention of David J. Morely, the British High Commissioner in Banjul, The Gambia Government described his attitude as “provocative, disruptive and undiplomatic design” in the wake of the launch of the FCO report.
Sovereignty will not be compromised
Mr Morley had expressed personal disappointment that “for the first time ever, The Gambia earns a specific mention in its pages by way of a specific case study” while calling on the government to investigate Imam Baba Leigh’s December 3, 2012 disappearance.
He had also warned that if human rights situation continued to deteriorate the country risks being upgraded to a country of concern, but also risks a further escalation in tension with international partners.
However, The Gambia Government strictly maintained that its sovereignty “will not be compromised and its people will not bow to the inimical values of others even though those were able to make their way by swaying majority and influence into international protocols”.