Human rights defender
Kofi has over 20 years of experience in media and development work in Gambia. He has worked with various public and civil society institutions on a wide range of human rights issues. He is also the coordinator of a voluntary human rights organisation which aims to provide legal aid services, thus promoting access to justice and empowering citizens. Besides the protection and promotion of human rights, Kofi has been involved in social work as a volunteer with several youth and women’s rights organisations.
The Gambia is characterized by disregard for the rule of law and abuse of rights by the State. President Yahya Jamehbrutally represses any form of opposition. Human Rights Defenders are particularly at risk and face arbitrary arrests, torture, enforced disappearance and targeted killing. Abuses are also frequently committed by paramilitary groups and members of the Gambian police forces. A culture of violations by and impunity for state agents prevails. Tensions are aggravated by the bad economic situation, poverty and high levels of corruption.
As a leading voice for human rights in the Gambia, Kofi is on the radar of the authorities. He has been under surveillance (phone tapping, house visits, etc.) for a long time and the activities of his NGOs are also under close scrutiny. Kofi’s name is on the list of high priority Gambians at the intelligence headquarters. During his stay in Groningen, Kofi wants to link with organisations, institutions and individuals in the Netherlands involved in human rights work, enhance his advocacy and build up his communication skills. Raising awareness about the situation in his country is also a high priority, as it remains unknown to the international public. Shelter City will also offer him a unique opportunity to withdraw from the Gambia to reflect and re-energize.