A coalition of fourteen organisations joined forces to write to President Obama last week requesting the United States hold “President Yahya Jammeh and his associates accountable for their deplorable human rights record,” particularly with regard to LGBT people in the Gambia.
Their letter stated: “It is not too late for the United States to send President Jammeh and his regime a clear and unequivocal message: human rights violations will not be tolerated, and the U.S. government will respond with actions, as well as with strong condemnation.”
In particular, they recommended that President Obama “place a visa ban on key Gambian officials, including President Jammeh, who have promoted discriminatory laws and who are responsible for grave human rights abuses.” They also urged the president to consider freezing “Jammeh’s family … assets in the U.S., including a multimillion dollar home in Potomac, Maryland.”
The groups thanked the President for the U.S. actions so far, including Gambia’s revocation from The Gambia’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) eligibility.
They stated that: “The National Security Council’s statement on December 4, 2014 rightly called out their (Gambia’s) government for a wide range of abuses, including torture, extrajudicial executions and recently enacted legislation that imposes harsh penalties for “aggravated homosexuality.”
The letter also explained: “However, the situation in The Gambia remains dire. We believe more can be done to assist those who have been unjustly detained following passage of the Criminal Code (Amendment) Act. In particular, we respectfully urge the U.S. Department of State to request from Gambian officials more information about the health and safety of individuals who have been detained incommunicado on the basis of their sexual orientation.”
“Some of them may have been released, but an unknown number remain in detention. There are credible reports that at least some of these individuals have been tortured and the lives of those remaining in detention might be in danger. We therefore urge the United States government to obtain information about the Gambian authorities’ plans to either prosecute or release them.”
The letter to President Obama dated January 23, 2015, was signed by: Human Rights Campaign, the Council for Global Equality, IGLHRC, Human Rights First, GLAAD, National LGBTQ Task Force, Los Angeles LGBT Center, Global Justice Institute of the Metropolitan Community Churches, National Center for Transgender Equality, Out & EQUAL Workplace Advocates, HVLR, PFLAG, NGLCC, and The Fellowship Global.
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