For many African activists based on the continent, getting to a major human rights summit just underway in The Gambia is likely to have been a challenging exercise. The journey by air from many African countries to the capital, Banjul, for the 63rd Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), could have been prohibitively expensive, involved transiting through multiple cities and taken days.
“Dead men don’t vote,” said a Gambian political activist known as Mama Africa. She spoke during an event on the side-lines of the 59th Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights
(ACHPR) held in Gambia’s capital Banjul last month. The focus was the crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly ahead of the 2016 presidential elections.
Pierre Claver Mbonimpa is not permitted to get close to an airport, train station or port without authorisation from a judge. He cannot travel outside of the capital of his native Burundi, Bujumbura. Whenever called upon, he must present himself before judicial authorities.
Last July marked 19 years of Gambian President Yahya Jammeh’s inordinately long rule. His legacy during this time is to mark his country as one of the most unapologetically repressive states in Africa.