The Gambia’s constitution enumerates a full range of provisions and assurances for a multiparty democratic republic. In 2016 Adama Barrow, the consensus candidate of a coalition of seven opposition political parties, defeated incumbent president Yahya Jammeh in what international observers deemed a peaceful and credible election. Barrow was initially sworn into office in January 2017 in Dakar, Senegal, during a six-week political impasse when Jammeh refused to cede power. President Barrow was sworn into office again in the Gambia the following month after a peaceful regional and international intervention, led by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member countries, resulted in the former president departing for exile. In the 2017 parliamentary elections, the United Democratic Party won 31 of the 53 seats contested. International and domestic observers considered these elections to be free and fair.
The Gambia Police Force maintains internal security and reports to the minister of interior. The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) consist of four branches: the Gambia National Army, the Gambia Navy, the Republican National Guard, and the Gambia Air Force. The GAF’s principal responsibilities are to defend the territorial integrity of the country, to aid civil authorities in emergencies, and to provide natural disaster relief assistance in agriculture, engineering, health and education. The chief of the defense staff administers the GAF and reports through the minister of defense to the president as commander in chief. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.
Significant human rights issues included: harsh and potentially life-threatening prison conditions; lack of accountability in cases involving violence against girls and women, including rape and widespread female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C); trafficking in persons; and criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults, although the law was not enforced.
The government took steps to investigate, prosecute, or otherwise hold accountable some officials who committed abuses. Nevertheless, impunity and a lack of consistent enforcement continued to occur.
Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
The constitution and law provide for equality of all persons; no person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner because of race, color, gender, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status. Legal provisions against discrimination do not apply to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, and inheritance of property. The law prohibits discrimination in employment, access to credit, owning and managing a business, or in housing or education.
There were no reports the government failed to enforce the law.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Citing more pressing priorities, the president dismissed homosexuality as a nonissue in the country. In July 2018 the country’s delegation to the UN Human Rights Council stated the government did not plan to reverse or change the law. The law, however, was not enforced.
There was strong societal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex individuals.