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Gambia: Implementation of international humanitarian law

10-12-1999 News Release 99/49

On 30 November and 1 December, in cooperation with the Gambia Red Cross Society and the Gambian Department of State for Justice, the ICRC held a seminar - the first of its kind in Gambia - on the implementation of humanitarian law. The seminar, which brought together around 40 people from the main Gambian Departments of State and from civil society, provided the ICRC with an opportunity to meet all the members of the Interministerial Committee on International Humanitarian Law set up on 12 August 1999, the 50th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions.

The purpose of the seminar was to take stock of the situation regarding implementation of humanitarian law, to assess the measures that had already been adopted and to determine what measures should be taken in the future.   The following recommendations were approved by the participants: the adoption of a new Geneva Conventions Act aimed at incorporating these treaties into national legislation; the amendment of current criminal legislation so as to make it easier to bring suspected war criminals to justice (whether the crimes involved are committed during international or internal conflicts); the ratification of the Statute of the International Criminal Court (only six States, including Senegal and Ghana in Africa, have ratified the treaty so far) and adherence to the United Nations 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and its four annexed Protocols.

At the end of the seminar, Isabelle Daoust, coordinator for West Africa of the ICRC Advisory Service on International Humanitarian Law, reminded those present that the ICRC remained at the disposal of States to provide as sistance and advice in all national implementation efforts. For many of the participants, the swiftest and most effective way of preventing, putting an end to and repressing violations of humanitarian law was to strengthen national legislation.

Since the ICRC Advisory Service was set up in 1966 the ICRC has organized more than 50 seminars of this kind in a great many countries, including 16 in Africa.