Gambia is a multi-party democratic republic, but one party dominates the political landscape. The constitution enumerates a full range of provisions and assurances for a multiparty democratic republic. Human rights organizations and opposition parties, however, claimed the government repeatedly took steps to restrict the democratic space. International observers considered the 2011 elections neither free nor fair, and six of seven opposition parties boycotted the 2012 and 2013 elections. Civilian authorities at times did not maintain effective control over the security forces.
During 2015, the most serious human rights abuses reported include torture, arbitrary arrest, prolonged pretrial and incommunicado detention; enforced disappearance of citizens; and government harassment and abuse of its critics. Officials routinely used various methods of intimidation to retain power.
Other reported human rights abuses included poor prison conditions; denial of due process; restrictions on privacy and freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and practice of religion; corruption; violence against women and girls, including female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C); early and forced marriage; trafficking in persons, including child prostitution; discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals; and child labor.
While the government took steps to prosecute or punish some individuals who committed abuses, impunity and lack of consistent enforcement remained problems.