The Gambia: The state of liberal democracy

Congratulations to Gaye Sowe, Executive Director – Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) and member of the Constitutional Review Commission; and Satang Nabaneh, Ph.D in Law Candidate/Founder and Editor, Law Hub Gambia. Their joint chapter on The Gambia was published as part of the I-CONnect-Clough Center 2017 Global Review of Constitutional law. We are pleased to circulate this report published by the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy.


This is the second edition of the I·CONnect-Clough Center Global Review of Constitutional Law (ISBN: 978-0-692-15916-3). The 2017 Global Review assembles detailed but relatively brief reports on constitutional developments and cases in 61 jurisdictions during the past calendar year. The reports are authored by academic and/or judicial experts, and often the reports are co-authored by judges and scholars. The reports in this first-of-its-kind volume offer readers systematic knowledge that, previously, has been limited mainly to local networks rather than a broader readership.

Available at SSRN:

Suggested citation

Sowe G and Nabaneh S ‘The Gambia: The state of liberal democracy’ in Albert R, Landau, D, Faraguna P, and Drugda Š: The I·CONnect-Clough Center 2017 Global Review of Constitutional Law (July 19, 2018) 97-101.

Overview of the chapter "The Gambia: The state of liberal democracy"

2017 witnessed unprecedented political events in The Gambia that resulted in a transition from a dictatorship to a democracy. The single most important development was that “The Gambia became one of Africa’s newest democracies following 22 years of authoritarian rule by Jammeh, who vowed to rule The Gambia for a billion years. 

This momentous change led to the dawn of a new political and democratic dispensation and a slow, but gradualist thrust to liberal democracy.
— Sowe & Nabaneh

This report looks at various constitutional amendments, promulgation of new laws, constitutional case law and politics including Gambianization of the judiciary and what big questions await The Gambia in 2018 or beyond.

Download The Gambia chapter and the full report here.  



The Gambia and the African human rights system


Synopsis of the Statement by the Gambian Delegate, Aji Adam Ceesay, Ministry of Justice at the 62nd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. 25 April-9 May 2018, Nouakchott, Mauritania

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The Gambia’s state report focused on measures taken to integrate the country into the human rights family. Major strides include the following:

  • Promulgation of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Appointment of commissioners and institutional arrangements are underway.
  • In their determination to rebuild the nation and lay the foundation for good governance and human rights, Truth, Reparations and Reconciliation Act (TRRC) was enacted.
  • The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) Act was also enacted for the establishment of  a Commission for the drafting and guiding of the process of  promulgating a new Constitution
  • Media laws: Ministry has established national committee to review laws. Enhancement of speech and media including issuance of TV licenses.
  • In terms of political and civil rights, elections that were considered free and fair took place including, National Assembly and local government.
  • Concrete measures are also undertaken to address prison conditions.

Plans by Government

  • Formalization of the national procedures for accession to the Convention Against Torture (CAT) and subsequent domestication.
  • Commencement of the process of ratifying the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Older Persons.
  • Finalization of the Draft Disability Bill as domesticated legislation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

 Feedback of Chairperson of the African Commission, Hon Commissioner, Soyata Maiga
She expressed delight with the progress that has been made in the normative planes and the establishment of governance institutions. She recalled how for long time, they were reporting excessive human rights violations happening in The Gambia and thus, seen as people that were manipulated by the NGOs. She reiterated that The Gambia can count on the support of Commission, and international community.

Law Hub Gambia’s Take: The Gambia SHOULD fulful its state reporting obligations

One of the most effective means by which the African Commission can ensure the promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights is through the state reporting procedure.

However, The Gambia’s record of fulfilling its state obligation of submitting reports is extremely poor. At the African regional level, The Gambia submitted its initial report (1986-1992) on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter) in 1992. In accordance with article 62 of the African Charter, states parties are required to submit periodic report every two years. The Gambia’s first periodic report was submitted in 1994 for duration (1992-1994) and no more have been submitted.

Since its ratification of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Charter (African Children’s Charter) on 14 December 2000 and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) on 25 May 2005, The Gambia has never submitted any initial or periodic reports to both instruments.

During its statement, The Gambia committed to submitting its state reports after two decades in the next session, we look forward to the inclusion of civil society in the preparation of the report and subsequent submission. 


S Nabaneh ‘The impact of the African Charter and the Maputo Protocol in The Gambia’ in VO Ayeni (ed) The impact of the African Charter and the Maputo Protocol in selected African states (2016) 75-93. Available at :

Report of The Gambia in accordance with Article 62 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,

Periodic of report, ACHPR/PR/GAM/XVI (accessed 15 February 2018).