Addressing the Political Crisis in the Gambia

July 22, 2016
10:00 am - 11:30 am



About the Event 

Once a beacon for democracy and economic development in the region, the Gambia now ranks 175 out of 188 on the Human Development Index (HDI), and scored just 6.5 on Freedom House’s 2016 index and is West Africa’s last remaining dictatorship. 
Despite the challenging political environment, Gambian civil society organizations, diaspora groups, and advocacy organizations, including NED grantees, have made significant contributions to building democratic institutions and preparing the population for a future Gambia that is democratic. They’ve improved international awareness over the political situation, organized discussions in the Gambia on democracy and human rights, prepared Gambian women for political life, and drafted and revised policies to reform government institutions. In order to contribute to the spread of correct information on both the political situation and existing efforts for reform, and to reinforce collaboration among civic groups, policymakers, and political parties seeking to address the Gambia crisis, NED will hold a public event on July 22 to discuss the following:
  • The current human rights situation in the Gambia.
  • Prospects for transparent and credible Presidential elections.
  • Ongoing efforts to resolve the crisis. 


Dr. Isatou Touray, Executive Director, Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP)

Pasamba Jow, Spokesperson, Democratic Union of Gambian Activists (DUGA)

Jim Wormington, Researcher, Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Steven Feldstein, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) 

moderated by

Kamissa Camara, Senior Program Officer, Central and West Africa, National Endowment for Democracy 

About the Speakers


Dr. Isatou Touray is the Executive Director and founding member of the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP). She holds a Master’s Degree in Gender and Development from the Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands and a Doctorate Degree in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, United Kingdom. Dr. Touray is a well-known feminist activist in West Africa. With NED support, GAMCOTRAP has been leading a campaign to improve women’s political participation in the Gambia through public debates on sensitive socio-cultural issues, and by encouraging promising women leaders to run for office. In addition to their NED-funded work, GAMCOTRAP has been extensively involved in the movement to protect women and children’s rights in the Gambia.

Pasamba Jow is a founding member and spokesman of one the most well-known diaspora Gambian activist groups, the Democratic Union of Gambian Activists (DUGA). He is a longtime community, civil and human rights activist, and political commentator. He was a reporter with the New Citizen newspaper, which was closed by the Gambian government. He continued his advocacy after moving to the United States in 1995. He is a founding member of the Gambia Press Union, USA branch, where he served as its first president.

Jim Wormington is a researcher in the Africa Division at HRW where he covers West Africa. He was previously an attorney at the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, where he conducted research to inform rule of law and human rights development programs, and implemented programs in West and Central Africa. Wormington has also worked at the International Crisis Group and the War Crimes Chamber of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is an English-trained barrister, an associate member of QEB Hollis Whiteman Chambers, and was educated at Cambridge University (MA) and New York University School of Law (LLM). He is fluent in French.

Steven Feldstein is a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL). He is responsible for DRL’s work in Africa, international labor affairs, and international religious freedom. Previously, Feldstein served as the Director of the Office of Policy in the Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and was responsible for guiding strategic planning and operations, providing high-level policy direction on emerging issues and priority areas, and shaping USAID’s policy leadership in the development community. From 2007-2011, he served as Counsel on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (under former Chairmen Joe Biden and John Kerry) where he oversaw a portfolio that included oversight over all U.S. foreign assistance agencies, budgets and programs, State Department management and operations, and international organizations. He has also worked at the State Department for the Under Secretary for Economics and Business Affairs, as well as with the International Rescue Committee in Rwanda and Croatia. He is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and received his J.D. from Berkeley School of Law and his A.B. from Princeton University.


Kamissa Camara is the Senior Program Officer for West and Central Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) where she oversees a multi-million grant portfolio to civil society organizations in the West and Central Africa sub-regions, design country strategies and identify policy gaps in transitional justice, human rights, peacebuilding, democracy promotion, corruption and civil-military relations that can potentially be addressed by local partners through NED funding. Previously, she worked for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) where she managed electoral assistance programs in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. She holds a M.A. in International Economics and Development from Université Pierre Mendès France (Grenoble, France) and a B.A. in Applied Foreign Languages, specializing in International Relations from Université Denis Diderot (Paris, France). She is a native French and Bambara speaker and is fluent in English and German.