The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has challenged government of The Gambia to adopt mechanisms to prevent environmental pollution and degradation in the country.
The Gambia is a party to international and regional conventions towards advancing the right to healthy environment. It is also obliged, as a party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, to provide for the right to a general satisfactory environment.
“The Constitution does not specifically recognise the right to a satisfactory environment. However, there exists a National Environment and Management Act 1994 regarding the control and management of the environment,” the rights body stated.
The rights body further revealed that the Act, in addition to establishing the National Environment Agency responsible for the management of the environment, also confers a duty on persons to maintain a decent environment.”
“However, the Conflict Development Analysis 2019 has revealed that land and environmental issues are on the rise and create community tensions threatening social cohesion and act as key drivers of instability,” it noted.
“Concerns include land ownership, reduction in agricultural land due to climate effects, commercial development and land and water pollution from fishmeal companies,” it further noted.
The government has therefore been tasked to recognise the right to a satisfactory environment under the constitution and urgently address public concerns on issues relating to environmental pollution or degradation.
NHRC also challenged government to develop a National Action Plan for the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as well as adopt measures to prevent pollution and ecological degradation and put in place effective mechanisms for the rehabilitation of sites that have been mined.