Gambia deaths highlight worrying pre-election situation, says UN’s Zeid

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The office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein urged authorities to provide lifesaving medical support to detainees. Photo: UN/Jean-Marc Ferré

The death of a leading opposition politician in custody in The Gambia must be investigated and lifesaving medical help given to peaceful demonstrators who are still being detained, the UN's human rights chief has said.

In a statement issued after the death of United Democratic Party (UDP) member Solo Sandeng, one of three activists to die after demonstrations last week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called the development "deeply disturbing".

Daniel Johnson has more.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said the death of Solo Sandeng and two other fellow party members highlighted the worrying pre-electoral environment in The Gambia.

Reports indicate that state security forces broke up peaceful demonstrations last week, leaving some with serious injuries.

Spokesperson for the High Commissioner Ravina Shamdasani said that there was particular concern about one protestor who remains in custody and is in need of urgent help.

"We even have reports that one of the protestors who was arrested is in a coma, so it is extremely urgent that they receive medical assistance and this is an obligation of the government of The Gambia to ensure that they do receive this medical attention."

The UN spokesperson said there had been fresh protests following the deaths of the opposition politicians and that there was concern about how the authorities would react to them amid the "worsening" human rights situation.

The demonstrations come ahead of elections in December in the west African country, where President Yahya Jammeh has been in power for more than 20 years.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 0'57"

 

 

 

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