Jurists denounce lethal weapons for control of peaceful demonstration in Gambia

Today, the ICJ condemned the practice of shooting unarmed demonstrators with lethal firearms, which has caused the death of at least 12 Gambian children and one official of the Gambian Red Cross Society.

It is a matter of grave concern that a peaceful demonstration by students protesting against their mistreatment by the police could be met with such indiscriminate use of brutal force.

Even where demonstrators are throwing stones at the security forces, practice has shown that it is neither necessary nor permissible to use lethal weapons against them. All violence used in self-defence must be proportionate to the violence used or the threat of violence. Stone-throwing rioters can be quelled by the use of water-hoses and other non-lethal weapons, and the security forces can be protected with helmets and shields.

According to reports reaching the ICJ, the slain Red Cross volunteer was at the time of the incident wearing the organisation’s insignia and was within its premises. The Gambia is a party to many international human rights instruments, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. This bloody event in Banjul is a serious violation of international human rights and humanitarian standards to which the country has adhered.

The ICJ calls upon the Gambian Authorities to refrain from the use of lethal and indiscriminate force against civilians; institute an enquiry into the incident and bring those found guilty of the killings to justice. Furthermore, the Government should take adequate steps to ensure that the activities of their agents are in conformity with accepted international standards and norms

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