The Gambia Alert: Press Union demands immediate investigation into Chief Ebrima Manneh’s disappearance

The Gambia Press Union (GPU) has in a strong worded statement asked the Gambian government to immediately conduct thorough investigation into the disappearance of their colleague Chief Ebrima Manneh as directed by the ECOWAS Court.

The GPU statement issued on July 30, 2014, asked the Gambian government “to solicit support from its allies abroad if on its own, it cannot figure out solutions to this problem.”

“We believe that Chief Ebrima Manneh’s family who have been suffering since July 2006, need to know the whereabouts of their loved one,” the statement said.
The GPU noted that the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Abuja, Nigeria, relied on evidence adduced by two plaintiff witnesses to deliver its verdict in the case. It said the Gambian authorities can therefore rely on the two witnesses.

“Given that the verdict of the Court has not been overturned coupled with the fact that the evidence of the witnesses remains uncontroverted, then this leaves the Gambia Government with the options of either complying with the judgment of the court or conducting a thorough investigation into the matter”, the statement said.

July 7, marked eight years since Chief Ebrimah Manneh, a reporter of the pro-government newspaper, Daily Observer, in the Gambia disappeared. Manneh was on July 7, 2006, arrested by officers of the Gambia National Intelligence Agency (NIA) following an attempt to republish an article he downloaded from the internet, which was critical of President Yahya Jammeh’s administration.

Between the time of his arrest and now, Gambia’s senior government officials, including President Jammeh, Marie Saine-Firdaus, the former Minister of Justice, Edward Gomez, former Attorney General, Yankuba Sonko, Inspector General of Police have made conflicting statements about his whereabouts and have failed to conduct any investigations into his whereabouts.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in 2007, litigated against the Gambian government, the case of Manneh’s arrest and disappearance at the ECOWAS Court. The Court in a ruling the following year, (June 2008) declared Manneh’s arrest and detention illegal and ordered the Gambian government to release and compensate him with an amount of US$100,000.However, six years after the ruling, the Gambia is yet to respect the Court’s ruling.

The MFWA joins the call by the GPU to get justice for Manneh. We entreat all Gambians, regional and international human rights organisations and governments to join the campaign to put pressure on President Jammeh to respect the human rights of citizens.  We call on the ECOWAS Commission to compel the Gambian government to respect the ECOWAS Court’s ruling on Manneh.

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