The Gambia: Human Rights Violations in 2013

* 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: 1 recorded incident

Incident Details

  1. On October 3, 2013, the state-owned Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) showed three members of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP)—Amadou Sanneh, Malang Fatty, and Alhagie Sambou Fatty—and a Commissioner of Oaths, Bakary Baldeh, confessing to having written a false attestation to support asylum applications. They had been detained since about September 19, 2013. Amadou looked weak, appeared to be in great pain with tears in his eyes, and could hardly sit up straight. Journalist Fatou Camara, who was detained at the NIA at the time, posted on Facebook that Amadou and his co-accused had been severely tortured.

List of Named Victims of Torture

  1. Amadou Sanneh
  2. Malang Fatty
  3. Alhagie Sambou Fatty
  4. Bakary Baldeh

Arbitrary Arrests or Detention: 7 recorded incidents

Incident Details

  1. On January 16, 2013, police arrested the president of the court of appeal, Nigerian-born Justice Joseph Wowo, following his dismissal from the position. He was accused of giving false information to a public officer but was never formally charged. The case was withdrawn after nearly three weeks of detention.
  2. On May 21, 2013, authorities arrested and detained former attorney general and minister of justice Lamin Jobarteh, who had been dismissed the previous day, and the solicitor general, Pa Harry Jammeh. On June 19, 2013, they charged with “abuse of office, conspiracy to defeat justice, destroying evidence, official corruption, and neglect of official duty.” They were granted bail on June 25, 2013 but were rearrested shortly afterwards by the NIA. They remained detained until August 13.
  3. On June 16, 2013, NIA officers arrested former secretary-general and minister of presidential affairs Dr. Njogou Bah at his home in Busumbala and detained him without charge until July 15, 2013, when he appeared in court charged with abuse of office and conspiracy to commit a felony.
  4. On August 6, 2013, Justice Wowo was arrested again for allegedly soliciting a bribe from a Dutch national who had a pending case in the courts. He was held until August 21 when he was granted bail. His co-accused in the trial was the former attorney general and minister of justice Lamin Jobarteh. The case was ongoing at year’s end.
  5. *On September 17, NIA officers arrested journalist and television presenter Fatou Camara, who had recently been dismissed from her position as director of press and public relations in the office of the president. On September 19, authorities released her, but immediately re-arrested her and held her for 22 days before charging her with “spreading false news and publication of false news with intent to tarnish the image of the president.” She was granted bail and later fled the country.
  6. Between September 19–25, 2013, the NIA arrested three members of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP)—Amadou Sanneh, Malang Fatty, and Alhagie Sambou Fatty—and a Commissioner of Oaths, Bakary Baldeh, on allegations of tarnishing the country’s image. On October 20, 2013, the government formally charged them with “conspiracy, sedition, possession of seditious publication, and false swearing.”
  7. *On November 14, 2013, police arrested and detained Mass Kah, a messenger at the privately-owned Foroyaa newspaper, without charge for allegedly denigrating and insulting President Yahya Jammeh.

List of Named Victims of Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

  1. Joseph Wowo
  2. Lamin Jobarteh
  3. Pa Harry Jammeh
  4. Njogou Bah
  5. *Fatou Camara
  6. Amadou Sanneh
  7. Malang Fatty
  8. Alhagie Sambou Fatty
  9. Bakary Baldeh
  10. *Mass Kah

Freedom of Expression Violations: 6 recorded incidents

Incident Details

  1. *On May 23, Lamin Sanyang, a reporter for opposition newspaper Foroyaa, was stopped from entering a court room at Yundum Army Barracks to cover the trial of five soldiers who were arrested after returning from peacekeeping duties in Darfur. A military officer at the barracks said the reporter needed clearance to cover the trial.
  2. *On July 5, the National Assembly passed the Information and Communication (Amendment) Act, which created several new offences for online speech that are punishable by a 15-year prison term and/or a fine of three million dalasi (US$85,714). The act criminalizes the spreading of false news about the government or public officials, caricatures or the making of derogatory statements regarding public officials, and inciting dissatisfaction with or instigating violence against the government. Information Minister Nana Grey-Johnson stated the purpose of the amendments is the “deterrent punishment” of those who engage in “treacherous campaigns” and incite “unpatriotic behavior.
  3. *On September 17, NIA officers arrested journalist and television presenter Fatou Camara, who had recently been dismissed from her position as director of press and public relations in the office of the president. On September 19, authorities released her, but immediately re-arrested her and held her for 22 days before charging her with “spreading false news and publication of false news with intent to tarnish the image of the president.” She was granted bail and later fled the country.
  4. *On November 14, 2013, police arrested and detained Mass Kah, a messenger at the privately-owned Foroyaa newspaper, without charge for allegedly denigrating and insulting President Yahya Jammeh.
  5. *Internet users were unable to access the websites of foreign online news blogs such as Freedom Online and occasionally other Gambian dissident blogs.
  6. *Internet users’ ability to access the internet in internet cafes was restricted. The government blocked Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services (such as Skype), dating websites, and other “prohibited information.” Cafe owners who violate these rules face the suspension or revocation of their licenses. These sites remained available on users’ personal devices, however.

List of Named Victims of Freedom of Expression Violations

  1. *Lamin Sanyang
  2. *Fatou Camara
  3. *Mass Kah

List of Named Victims in 2013

  1. Amadou Sanneh
  2. Malang Fatty
  3. Alhagie Sambou Fatty
  4. Bakary Baldeh
  5. Joseph Wowo
  6. Lamin Jobarteh
  7. Pa Harry Jammeh
  8. Njogou Bah
  9. *Lamin Sanyang
  10. *Fatou Camara
  11. *Mass Kah

Share this story!

Related Stories