EASO Country of Origin Information Report: The Gambia Country Focus

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European Asylum Support Office


This report was drafted by the Country of Origin Information (COI) unit of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) and provides a summary of the SEM’s findings on selected topics regarding The Gambia.

This report was translated into English. An extended quality review was performed by COI specialists from EU+ countries, by an external expert and by EASO. All drafters and reviewers are mentioned in the Acknowledgements section.

There are still some gaps in the information. These relate to contradictory or out-of-date information, for example in relation to the administrative structure and military forces. The information about identity papers and civil register records is incomplete. While statements of intent by the new government are well documented, reliable information about concrete implementation measures is often lacking.

A change of course commenced with the election of Adama Barrow as the new President of The Gambia in December 2016, bringing new challenges in terms of the assessment of sources: a large number of publications, especially concerning human rights, have been published or researched under the regime of ex-president Jammeh. It is still difficult to assess the stage that the expected reforms have reached and how long-lasting they will be. Gambian daily newspapers, which have followed the reform process attentively and critically since the change of government, are an important source of information and are given a corresponding amount of space. However, they comment on ongoing developments rather than being able to engage in analytical systematisation. More extensive analyses of the new government policy have yet to be undertaken.

This study therefore merely represents an initial inventory during a period of rapid change when the power relationships are still uncertain.


  • Defining the Terms of Reference In a ‘Country Focus’ report, EASO aims to provide information focusing on ‘selected topics’ of particular relevance for international protection status determination (Refugee Status and Subsidiary Protection) for Gambian applicants. It is not meant to be a general description of the human rights situation in the country, nor a comprehensive overview of all topics at stake in international protection status determination.

The terms of reference (ToR) reflect the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration need for information on: o General background information on The Gambia (geography, population, ethnic and religious groups, political and judicial systems); o The human right’s situation in The Gambia during the Jammeh administration; o The developments under the new Gambian administration, particularly concerning human rights.

  • Collecting information This country focus is largely based on academic publications relating to The Gambia. Research work from various fields such as anthropology and politics, as well as handbooks and overviews, are the most important sources of information for the General information and State structure and politics sections.

Statistics from the Gambian administration were also an important source of information, with the Gambian Bureau of Statistics periodically publishing a Statistical Abstract.

Publications by international or non-governmental organisations and from national, international and diaspora media provided other data. Additional information was obtained from Gambian diplomatic representations in Europe.

All consulted sources are listed in the Bibliography.

The peer-reviewing process of this Country Focus report on The Gambia occurred between 13 September 2017 and 30 November 2017. During that process, information from a limited number of sources was added to the text, with the purpose of complementing or updating the existing draft. These sources and information used are clearly identified by their access dates in the Bibliography.

  • Quality control In order to ensure that the authors respected the EASO COI Report Methodology, a quality review was carried out by COI specialists from the countries listed as reviewers in the Acknowledgments, and by EASO. In addition, an external reviewer - Dr. David Perfect -, has also reviewed the report. All comments made by the reviewers were taken into consideration and most of them were implemented in the final draft of this report.

  • Structure of the report This report is divided into three main chapters: the first provides general background information on topics like geography, population, administration, state structure or the security forces in The Gambia. The second chapter describes the situation of the former government officials, and the third and last chapter provides an insight on the human rights situation under ex-President Yahya Jammeh. Developments since the change of government in January 2017 are available throughout the document.