Gambia: Human Rights Violations in 2011

Gambia: Human Rights Violations in 2011

* indicates an incident related to freedom of expression

Extrajudicial Killings: 3 recorded incidents

Incident Details

  1. On January 28, 2011, five officers of the local detachment of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) tied Dembo Sibi to a tree and beat him to death in the village of Numuyel. Dembo was arrested after being accused of stealing a motorbike; police officers demanded 3,000 dalasi (US$105) for his release, which Dembo was unable to pay. Two officers were convicted of murdering Sibi, but three were acquitted.
  2. On April 15, 2011, Cherno Alieu Suwareh died following a confrontation with five officers of the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA). On March 25, 2011, the officers raided Cherno’s compound, reportedly found cannabis in his room, and struck Cherno’s head against a wall. Cherno was admitted to the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital in Banjul where he died 11 days later. Cherno’s niece said she was present during the beating and that her uncle was unable to climb into the vehicle that took him away due to his injuries. The officers were acquitted for lack of evidence.
  3. On December 16, 2011, NDEA officers arrested Alpha Omar Jobe on suspicion of cannabis trafficking. He was tortured before his release, and he died six days later as a result of his injuries.

List of Named Victims of Extrajudicial Killing

  1. Dembo Sibi
  2. Cherno Alieu Suwareh
  3. Alpha Omar Jobe

Enforced Disappearances: 0 recorded incidents

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Torture or Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: 3 recorded incidents

Details

  1. On January 2, 2011, two members of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) assaulted two timber dealers and their drivers in Foni Kampasa. The GAF members also stole the victims’ money and cell phones. The victims—Habib Babu, Gibi Sonko, Pa Ousman Ceesay, Ansumana Kinteh and Lamin Kassama—required medical attention and were taken to Bwiam Hospital by officers from Kalagi police station.
  2. On April 15, 2011, Cherno Alieu Suwareh died following a confrontation with five officers of the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA). On March 25, 2011, the officers raided Cherno’s compound, reportedly found cannabis in his room, and struck Cherno’s head against a wall. Cherno was admitted to the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital in Banjul where he died 11 days later. Cherno’s niece said she was present during the beating and that her uncle was unable to climb into the vehicle that took him away due to his injuries. The officers were acquitted for lack of evidence.
  3. On December 16, 2011, NDEA officers arrested Alpha Omar Jobe on suspicion of cannabis trafficking. He was tortured before his release, and he died six days later as a result of his injuries.

List of Named Victims of Torture

  1. Habib Babu
  2. Gibi Sonko
  3. Pa Ousman Ceesay
  4. Ansumana Kinteh
  5. Lamin Kassama
  6. Cherno Alieu Suwareh
  7. Alpha Omar Jobe

Arbitrary Arrests or Detention: 9 recorded incidents

Incident Details

  1. On January 26, 2011, Lamin Mboge, a lawyer known for his commitment to human rights, was arrested, charged with “false swearing” and “uttering false documents,” and remanded to Mile 2 Central Prison. Lamin was a former magistrate and leading counsel in the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP) case of 2010. He was arrested following a criminal complaint lodged by one of his clients over land he allegedly sold unlawfully.
  2. On March 7, 2011, police arrested and detained Bunka Fatty—father of the exiled opposition party Gambian Moral Congress (GMC) leader, Mai Fatty. On March 8, another family member, Mohammadu Fatty, claimed responsibility for displaying the campaign materials, was arrested and detained, after which point Bunka was released. They were arrested for displaying photographs of Fatty and other GMC campaign materials at their family home.
  3. *On March 16, 2011, police arrested and detained Dodou Sanneh, a journalist who petitioned the president to request his reinstatement at Gambia Radio and Television Services following Sanneh’s 2006 dismissal from there. Then, on September 15, 2011, Sanneh was convicted of “giving false information to a public servant” and sentenced to either pay a fine of 500 dalasi (US$17) or spend six months in prison. The GPU paid his fine.
  4. On April 30, 2011, security forces arrested Mouctar Diallo, a Guinean citizen who was visiting to study the relationship between West African nomads and globalization in Banjul. Mouctar was charged with “threatening national security” but was later cleared by the NIA and allowed to leave the country.
  5. *On June 7, Ndey Tapha Sosseh, the immediate past President of The Gambian Press Union (GPU), and two other Gambians, were detained and held incommunicado at secret locations. Four days after their arrest, they were brought before the Banjul Magistrate’s Court and initially charged with two counts of treason. On July 7, they were charged with allegedly distributing materials demanding an end to the authoritarian rule of President Yahya Jammeh by printing and distributing T-shirts for the Gambian Coalition for Change, a political pressure group that is calling for an “End to Dictatorship Now” in The Gambia. At the latest hearing in July, Mathew K. Jallow, a U.S.-based Gambian writer and Associate Editor of the online newspaper The Gambian Echo, and Famara Demba were included in the trial.
  6. *On June 7, 2011, Dr. Amadou Scattered Janneh, who recently criticized disappearances and attacks on the media, was arrested by plainclothes security agents at his office in Serrekunda. Janneh, an ICT professional, was dismissed from the regime of President Yahya Jammeh as Minister on July 6, 2005 after serving as a Minister from April 4, 2004.
  7. *On June 18, 2011, security forces arrested Alhaji Ismaila Manjang, a prominent Islamic scholar and imam in the coastal town of Gunjur, without charge. The arrest followed Manjang’s speech at his Islamic institute in which he condemned practices that could be considered idolatrous, such as visiting shrines to seek blessings. Manjang was subsequently held incommunicado at NIA headquarters for four days.
  8. *On June 27, 2011, Ahmed Alota, the executive director of the GPU, was arrested and detained for one night at Police Intervention Unit (PIU) headquarters following the Skype transmission of a statement made by Ndey Tapha Sosseh, the union’s exiled former president, at the GPU Congress.
  9. *On July 1, 2011, journalist Madi S. Njie, the newly elected secretary-general of the GPU, was arrested at the offices of The Standard newspaper. Njie was reportedly questioned about a report on Alota’s arrest that sent to the MFWA and the civil society organization. The Coalition for Change. Both Alota and Njie were released without charge.

List of Named Victims of Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

  1. Lamin Mboge
  2. Bunka Fatty
  3. Mohammadu Fatty
  4. *Dodou Sanneh
  5. Mouctar Diallo
  6. *Ndey Tapha Sosseh
  7. *Mathew K. Jallow
  8. *Famara Demba
  9. *Amadou Scattered Janneh
  10. *Alhaji Ismaila Manjang
  11. *Ahmed Alota
  12. *Madi S. Njie

Freedom of Expression Violations: 10 incidents

Incident Details

  1. On January 7, 2011, Gambia’s Justice Minister, Edward Gomez, issued threats to exiled journalists and rights defenders, saying that they would be prosecuted if they returned for allegedly “painting a grim picture” of the country. The Justice Minister was reacting to a story in the privately-owned Daily News about an international campaign mounted by exiled journalist Alieu B. Ceesay and the Scottish Society of Human Rights against the systematic human rights violations in the country. He said the advocates were “evil members” of society” who have taken refuge abroad and were “putting every nonsensical story in newspapers and on radio to tarnish the good image of the government.”
  2. *On March 16, 2011, President Jammeh warned independent journalists that he would not compromise or sacrifice the peace, security, stability, dignity, and the well-being of Gambians for the sake of freedom of expression: “You can say whatever you want to say. Yes, there is freedom of expression, but there is also freedom to defend the interest of this country. Each of us has a role to play and, as long as you play your role correctly and does not endanger the livelihood of Gambians, we will be friends.” He accused some journalists of being the “mouthpiece of opposition parties” and vowed to prosecute any journalist who offended him.
  3. *On March 16, 2011, police arrested and detained Dodou Sanneh, a journalist who petitioned the president to request his reinstatement at Gambia Radio and Television Services following Sanneh’s 2006 dismissal from there. Then, on September 15, 2011, Sanneh was convicted of “giving false information to a public servant” and sentenced to either pay a fine of 500 dalasi (US$17) or spend six months in prison. The GPU paid his fine.
  4. *On June 7, Ndey Tapha Sosseh, the immediate past President of The Gambian Press Union (GPU), and two other Gambians, were detained and held incommunicado at secret locations. At the latest hearing in July, Mathew K. Jallow, a U.S.-based Gambian writer and Associate Editor of the online newspaper The Gambian Echo, and Famara Demba were included in the trial.
  5. *On June 7, 2011, Dr. Amadou Scattered Janneh, who recently criticized disappearances and attacks on the media, was arrested by plainclothes security agents at his office in Serrekunda. Janneh, an ICT professional, was dismissed from the regime of President Yahya Jammeh as Minister on July 6, 2005 after serving as a Minister from April 4, 2004.
  6. *On June 18, 2011, security forces arrested Alhaji Ismaila Manjang, a prominent Islamic scholar and imam in the coastal town of Gunjur, without charge. The arrest followed Manjang’s speech at his Islamic institute in which he condemned practices that could be considered idolatrous, such as visiting shrines to seek blessings. Manjang was subsequently held incommunicado at NIA headquarters for four days.
  7. *On June 27, 2011, Ahmed Alota, the executive director of the GPU, was arrested and detained for one night at Police Intervention Unit (PIU) headquarters following the Skype transmission of a statement made by Ndey Tapha Sosseh, the union’s exiled former president, at the GPU Congress.
  8. *On July 1, 2011, journalist Madi S. Njie, the newly elected secretary-general of the GPU, was arrested at the offices of The Standard newspaper. Njie was reportedly questioned about a report on Alota’s arrest that sent to the MFWA and the civil society organization. The Coalition for Change. Both Alota and Njie were released without charge.
  9. *On several occasions during the year, NIA authorities ordered the community radio station Taranga FM to stop broadcasting news in local languages or face closure. Taranga was the only private radio station in the country that broadcasted national news in local languages. The station was forced off the air for 32 days in January 2011 and February 2011 but was allowed to broadcast again on the condition that it did not review opposition newspapers.
  10. *Internet users were unable to access the websites of the foreign online newspapers Freedom and The Gambia Echo, which criticized the government.

List of Named Victims of Freedom of Expression Violations

  1. *Dodou Sanneh
  2. *Ndey Tapha Sosseh
  3. *Amadou Scattered Janneh
  4. *Mathew K. Jallow
  5. *Famara Demba
  6. *Alhaji Ismaila Manjang
  7. *Ahmed Alota
  8. *Madi S. Njie

List of Named Victims in 2011

  1. Dembo Sibi
  2. Cherno Alieu Suwareh
  3. Alpha Omar Jobe
  4. Habib Babu
  5. Gibi Sonko
  6. Pa Ousman Ceesay
  7. Ansumana Kinteh
  8. Lamin Kassama
  9. Lamin Mboge
  10. Bunka Fatty
  11. Mohammadu Fatty
  12. Mouctar Diallo
  13. *Dodou Sanneh
  14. *Ndey Tapha Sosseh
  15. *Amadou Scattered Janneh
  16. *Mathew K. Jallow
  17. *Famara Demba
  18. *Alhaji Ismaila Manjang
  19. *Ahmed Alota
  20. *Madi S. Njie

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