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Gambia, The

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties

The constitution and law provide for freedom of expression, including for members of the press and other media, and the government generally respected this right. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to promote freedom of expression, including for members of media.

b. Freedoms of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The law provides for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, and although government generally respected the right of peaceful association, it placed minor administrative limitations on the right of peaceful assembly.

Freedom of Peaceful Assembly

By law the Gambia Police Force must grant a permit for all public meetings and gatherings of large groups. The inspector general of police has the authority to approve or disapprove permits and is required to communicate his decision to the requester in writing. Police generally approved requests unless there was concern regarding the peaceful nature of a proposed gathering or protest. Following training from the governments of France, Spain, and Germany, security forces’ capability to employ effective, nonviolent crowd-control techniques improved.

In the days after the December 4 presidential election, demonstrators favoring United Democratic Party (UDP) opposition candidate Ousainou Darboe took to the streets. After a crowd outside Darboe’s residence began interfering with traffic and damaging passing vehicles, police moved to disperse the protesters with tear gas. After compelling the crowd to leave the area, riot police continued to deploy tear gas against fleeing protesters, then returned to the area outside Darboe’s residence to deploy more tear gas. UDP representatives claimed the crowd outside Darboe’s residence had already dispersed when police returned; authorities stated additional tear gas was necessary to disperse an unlawful assembly. Independent observers asserted police use of tear gas at Darboe’s residence was excessive and called for police to hold accountable those who deployed the additional tear gas.

In January 2020 police arrested 137 demonstrators during a violent protest by the Three Years Jotna Movement. Protesters called for the president to honor his commitment to step down after three years, and other protesters affiliated with the movement called for the president to be forcibly removed from office. Police used tear gas against stone-throwing protesters, and some protesters and police sustained serious injuries. Police charged protest organizers with unlawful assembly and rioting. In February 2020 authorities released the organizers on bail. On February 10, the High Court dismissed the case against them after authorities withdrew the charges. Police re-arrested the group when they left the court building, purportedly based on new information. Ministry of Justice officials subsequently dropped a second set of charges.

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at

The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights.

In-country Movement: Police and immigration personnel frequently set up security checkpoints. Individuals found to be without proper identification documentation were subject to detention or forced to pay bribes.

Not applicable.

The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other organizations in providing protection and assistance to refugees, returning refugees, or asylum seekers, as well as other persons of concern.

Access to Asylum: The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. UNHCR did not have an office in the country but covered refugee matters from its mission in Senegal and through a partnership with the NGO The Gambia Food and Nutrition Association. Some refugees found it challenging to acquire civil documentation, leaving them at risk of statelessness.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future