Gambia: Human Rights Violations in 2010

* Indicates an incident related to freedom of expression

Extrajudicial Killings: 0 recorded incidents

Enforced Disappearances: 0 recorded incidents

Torture or Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: 2 recorded incidents

Incident Details

  1. On August 5, 2010, former inspector general of police Ensa Badjie and former commander of the military police unit of the army Lieutenant-Colonel Mam Matarr Secka, who were on trial for corruption, abuse of office, and drug-related offenses, told their lawyer that they were severely tortured by state security agents.
  2. Venezuelan national George Sanchez, who was one of nine men convicted of drug trafficking following the May 2010 seizure of more than two tons of cocaine in the village of Bonto, was tortured during his detention. During his December 2010 trial, George said that security officers put a plastic bag over his head and beat him, burned his waist and genitals with cigarettes, and forcefully removed one of his toenails.

List of Named Victims of Torture

  1. Ensa Badjie
  2. Mam Matarr Secka
  3. George Sanchez

Arbitrary Arrests or Detention: 4 recorded incidents

Incident Details

  1. Nigerian Edwin Nebolisa Nwakaeme, director of the Gambian human rights organization “Africa in Democracy and Good Governance,” was arrested on February 22, 2010 by the Immigration Department, released three days later, and then rearrested on March 1, 2010. He was taken to court in March and charged with giving “false information.” In September 2010, he was sentenced to six months in prison with hard labour.
  2. On March 5, 2010, former minister of fisheries and water resources retired Major Antouman Saho was arrested and detained at Mile 2 Central Prison for several weeks without charge. He was released and rearrested several times, spending a total of more than four months in detention without charge. In July 2010, he was finally pardoned by the president and released without charge.
  3. *On March 17, 2010, military officers with the Tourism Security Unit (TSU) of the Gambia Armed Forces arrested and detained Sanna Camara and Saikou Jammeh, reporters with the privately-owned The Daily News. The reporters were on an editorial assignment at a tourist site. They were detained for two hours for taking photographs of the beach without authorization and were released after agreeing in writing not to write any negative stories about the visit.
  4. On October 11, 2010, security personnel arrested two women, Dr. Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho, and charged them with theft. They were sent to Mile 2 Central Prison, which is notorious for its ill-treatment of inmates and appalling prison conditions. They work for the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP), which campaigns against female genital mutilation (FGM), and their organization has faced harassment in the past.

List of Named Victims of Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

  1. Edwin Nebolisa Nwakaeme
  2. Antouman Saho
  3. *Sanna Camara
  4. *Saikou Jammeh
  5. Isatou Touray
  6. Amie Bojang Sissoho

Freedom of Expression Violations: 9 recorded incidents

Incident Details

  1. *On March 17, 2010, military officers with the Tourism Security Unit (TSU) of the Gambia Armed Forces arrested and detained Sanna Camara and Saikou Jammeh, reporters with the privately-owned The Daily News. The reporters were on an editorial assignment at a tourist site. They were detained for two hours for taking photographs of the beach without authorization and were released after agreeing in writing not to write any negative stories about the visit.
  2. *In March and April 2010, Yusupha Cham, a Gambian journalist now based in the United Kingdom, received death threats from persons suspected to be agents of the notoriously feared National Intelligence Agency (NIA). These threats came during a time when Yusupha had started contributing articles to websites critical of the Jammeh government.
  3. *In June 2010, Abdoulie John—a correspondent for the Associated Press and an editor of the online Jollof News—received threats from unnamed callers. The threats may have been linked to his work at Jollof News, where Abdoulie covers various Gambian political issues.
  4. *In June 2009, seven journalists were arrested for sedition for publishing a statement by the Gambia Press Union (GPU) characterizing President Jammeh’s remarks about the killing of Deyda Hydara as un-Islamic, inappropriate, and provocative. In July 2009, the court discharged one of the journalists for lack of evidence. On August 5, 2010, the remaining six journalists were convicted on all counts and sentenced to two years in prison plus a fine of 1,000,000 dalasis (US$35,714). But on September 3, the six journalists were released following a pardon by President Jammeh, who said the pardon was in honor of Ramadan.
  5. *On August 9, 2010, a high court judge presiding over the trial of former inspector general of police Ensa Badjie summoned The Point newspaper deputy editor in chief Abba Gibba and reporter Sainey Marenah following The Point’s article “My Client Was Tortured to Obtain Statement.” The article quoted defence lawyer, who said his client, Ensa Badjie, was tortured severely by his interrogators before they took his “voluntary” statement. The judge said no such statement was made in court. However, the defence lawyer affirmed that he made such statements in court, and the journalists were released immediately.
  6. *On August 13, 2010, President Jammeh told Muslim worshippers: “Let me say it in English so that the white people can understand properly what I am saying. I said I will close down any radio station that broadcasts any information as far as Islam is concerned which contradicts the statement from the Supreme Islamic Council. I would not tolerate this nonsense again from any of the so-called scholars.”
  7. *On August 25, 2010, Amadou Samba, a businessman and the publisher of pro-government The Daily Observer newspaper, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. against the U.S.-based online Freedom Newspaper, its editor Pa Nderry M’Bai, and its publishers. The lawsuit demands that the Freedom Newspaper make public the names of its sources and staff and their contacts in the Gambia within thirty days from August 25. If the newspaper fails to meet his demands, Samba will held to court and claim damages of US$10,000 for his client. This lawsuit follows a 2009 article, in which Freedom Newspaper falsely reported that Samba had been arrested over a coup attempt. The newspaper also linked Samba to drug trafficking. However, the newspaper had retracted the stories and published rejoinders before the lawsuit.
  8. *On September 16, 2010, the Supreme Islamic Council (SIC) resolved that Imam Bakawsu Fofana should be banned from delivering sermons in mosques in The Gambia and lectures during religious ceremonies. The imam, a critic of the pro-Jammeh SIC leadership, had previously been summoned and questioned by the notorious National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and released without charge.
  9. *Internet users were unable to access the websites of two U.S.-based online newspapers, Freedom and The Gambia Echo, which were critical of the government and most of its actions.

List of Named Victims of Freedom of Expression Violations

  1. *Sanna Camara
  2. *Saikou Jammeh
  3. *Yusupha Cham
  4. *Abdoulie John
  5. *Abba Gibba
  6. *Sainey Marenah
  7. *Pa Nderry M’Bai
  8. *Bakawsu Fofana

List of Named Victims in 2010

  1. Ensa Badjie
  2. Mam Matarr Secka
  3. George Sanchez
  4. Edwin Nebolisa Nwakaeme
  5. Antouman Saho
  6. Isatou Touray
  7. Amie Bojang Sissoho
  8. *Sanna Camara
  9. *Saikou Jammeh
  10. *Yusupha Cham
  11. *Abdoulie John
  12. *Abba Gibba
  13. *Sainey Marenah
  14. *Pa Nderry M’Bai
  15. *Bakawsu Fofana

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