DETENTION WITHOUT TRIAL DISAPPEARANCE WITHOUT TRACE CONTINUES UNABATED IN THE GAMBIA

first_imgBy Mustapha Jallow The trend of unlawful detention without trial and disappearance without trace continues unabated in the Gambia as many people are still being picked up and held incommunicado at differentdetention centres such as the Mile Two prison, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), among the known places in the country. Some of these people were arrested or abducted by police officers or security operatives in the presence of their families and never seen or heard from again for more than a decade now. Recently, President YahyaJammeh, while pardoning some convicted prisoners also ordered for the release of some of these detainees held at the various places of detention. Notwithstanding this move, many remain in incommunicado detention or are missing without trace. The families of these victims of human rights violations and impunity continue to demand for either their loved ones to be produced or release in order to put an end to their endless trauma, agony and suffering.8 days ago, Alhagi Ousman Sawaneh, the Imam of Kanifing South mosque, was picked up by men in civilian clothes and later traced to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters in Banjul. He is still held at the NIA, according to family sources. Although the family is allowed access to him, the reason for his detention is still not known to them. It was earlier reported that Imam Sawaneh was picked up while leading a team of volunteers that was clearing the grass in the Kanifing South Cemetery on Sunday, 18 October, 2015 and taken away to an unknown destination. The family was later informed that he was at the NIA office in Banjul.12 days in Detention:  The ‘chef de garage’ of Brikama-Basse car park in Banjul, Sheikh Omar Colley, who resides in Jabang village in Kombo South District, was asked by a caller from Bansang to report to the Old Yundum police station where he was held overnight before being transferred to the NIAoffice in Banjul. He is still detained at the NIA office and his relatives are denied access to him. “We don’t know why he is held incommunicado and are worried about his health as he is hypertensive. We wanted to take food, soap, toothpaste and some clothes to him as he has not changed his clothes for twelve days now and we are denied access to him,” said a relative. The relative added “I always cry when Sheikh Omar’s young kids ask for their father.” 12 days in Detention:Mr.OusmanJammeh, a former Deputy Minister of Agriculture, was picked up by men in civilian clothes on Thursday, 15 October, 2015 following his removal from the cabinet of President Jammeh. According to a source, Mr. Jammeh is detained at the NIA headquarters in Banjul. When this reporter visited his family residence in Kanifing South for the second time to enquire whether they have access to him, he found personnel of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) who told him that Mr. Jammeh’s immediate family could not entertain guests,In an earlier visit, it was gathered that the former deputy agriculture’s whereabouts were not known. At the time, people were seen coming in and out of the compound in a sympathizing mood while one lady was even seen sobbing. Mr.Jammeh served as deputy minister of agriculture for less than four months.64 days in Detention: Mr Buba Ceesay, a senior Customs officer, is still detained at the NIA head office in Banjul since his arrest on Monday, 24 August, 2015 while on the verge of travelling out of the country, according to a close family source.The source indicated that they are allowed access to him at his place of detention. It was reported that Mr. Ceesay received a phone call from someone who asked him to report at the airport where he was picked up immediately upon his arrival and taken to the NIA headquarters in Banjul.FIFTEEN MONTHS IN DETENTION:Mr Seedy Jaiteh, the Human Resource Director at state telecommunication company Gamtel/Gamcel is still held in the state central prison at Mile II without access to his family, court appearance, bail or release. According to family sources, Mr Jaiteh was arrested on 27 August, 2014 by members of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) at his residence in Manjai Kunda around mid-night and led to a waiting vehicle with tinted glasses and without a registration number plate that whisked him away. He was initially held at the NIA from where he was later transferred to the state central prison.DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 9 YEARS: Chief Ebrima Manneh a senior reporter at the Daily Observer newspaper arrested by security agents at his place of work on 26 July 2006. He was later transferred to Bakau Police Station. He was later seen in a private vehicle driving towards Banjul, according to reports. Since then, he has not been heard or seen by his family or colleagues. His disappearance occurred immediately after the African Union (AU) Summit hosted by The Gambia in 2006.For more than nine years now, Chief Manneh’s desperate, helpless and aging father has been making frantic efforts in search of the whereabouts of his son but to no avail.The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) based in Accra, Ghana, filed a suit against the Gambia government at the ECOWAS Court in Abuja, Nigeria on 19 June 2007. The hearing of the case commenced on 16 July 2016, but the Government of The Gambia repeatedly failed to appear before the ECOWAS Court after being served with several summons. While the plaintiffs presented two witnesses from the Gambia who testified, the state failed to provide senior police and military officers who were subpoenaed to testify.On 5 June 2008, the ECOWAS Court entered judgment in favour of the missing journalist and ordered the Gambian government to release and compensate him an amount of US 100, 000 Dollars.DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 2 YEARS: Alhagie Mamut Ceesay and EbouJobe, two Gambian born US citizens, were reported missing after being abducted by security agents on 22 June 2013 in Brusubi, while on holidays in the Gambia. Messrs.Ceesay and Jobe have not been seen or heard from by their families since then. The families of the two missing Gambian US Citizens have been calling on the Gambia government to make efforts to secure the release of the duo. They indicated that the police have been informed and are fully aware of the disappearance of the duo but are yet to come up with any findings regarding their whereabouts.The US government has been pursuing the matter with the Gambia Government and did raise the matter at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).The US Charge d’Affairs in The Gambia said at a press conference late last year that “As far as I know, they were picked up and disappeared and we have asked the Gambia Government to investigate.”He further disclosed that they have even offered the services of the FBI to help in locating these two US citizens and added that they will leave no stone unturned in searching for their nationals.Mr. Ceesay is said to have completed his bachelor’s degree at University of Washington (Seattle) and later worked for Chevron Texaco for 11 years as an Infrastructure systems analyst. He recently obtained his MBA in 2013. He is married and has two children. As for Mr. Jobe, he is said to have graduated from the University of Washington and worked at Wal-Mart as an Operations Manager. He is also married and has three children.DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 9 YEARS:Lieutenant Ebou Lowe, a former officer of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) has gone missing since 2006. Family members have not been seen or heard from him.According to the source, the family members went to Mile Two prison on the 24 July 2015 when some convicted prisoners and detainees were released in anticipation that he would be among them but were disappointed to learn that he was not freed. Lt. Lowe was among the military officers who were arrested in the wake of the 21 March 2006 attempted coup and later announced by the state media on 4th April 2006 to have escaped with four other security officers while being transferred to Janjangbureh prison in the hinterland.DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 9 YEARS:Mr. LaminKanyi (alias KanyibaKanyi), who hailed from Jarra but residing in Bonto village in Kombo East in the West Coast Region (WCR), was abducted on 18th September 2006 by some plain clothes security agents, including a uniformed police officer, in the presence of his wife and brothers. At the time of his abduction, he was an employee of the Christian Children Fund (CCF), now Child Fund The Gambia. Since that fateful day, his whereabouts remain unknown to the family.DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 10 YEARS – Mr. LaminTunkara, a native of Kinteh-Kunda/ MarongKunda in the Central Baddibu District of the North Bank Region (NBR), was arrested on 21st July 2005 by a combined security team, comprising the CID (police),  men in civilian clothes and NIA agents, behind the Albert Market in Banjul. Since then, he has not been seen or heard from by his family.It was reported that his house in Tallinding was ransacked by state security agents who confiscated foreign currencies i.e. CFA Francs, US Dollars, Euros and Dalasi found there.A family source revealed that Mr. Tunkara was detained at the Police headquarters in Banjul for few days and later transferred to the Kairaba Police Station. His family said they still have no clue as to his whereabouts.DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 10 YEARS: Jasarja Kujabi, who hailed from Dobong village in the Foni Kansala District of West Coast Region (WCR), was reported to have been arrested in the presence of his family on the 27 July 2005and taken away to an unknown destination and disappeared without trace since then.A family source revealed that three security operatives came for him in a numberless 4 wheel Nissan vehicle with tinted glasses. It was said that he was escorted from his farm to the house for him to change his clothes and go with them. The source said the men who came for him even assured them that there is no need for them to panic as he was going to come back after meeting with the authorities.\DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 10 YEARS: Haruna Jammeh was reported to have been abducted on the same day and around the same time as Jasarja. According to sources, the two were put together in the same vehicle and whisked away. He was also not seen since, according to his family.DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 10 YEARS Mrs. Masireh Jammeh, alias ‘Marcie’, a former employee at the State House in Banjul and also a native of Kanilai, was reported missing since 15 July 2005. It was reported that she too was picked up by security personnel.DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 9 YEARS: Alhagie Momodou LaminNyassi, the chief of Foni Kansala District, NdongoMboob and Alhagie BubaSanyang, aka Bubai, who are all from Bwiam village in the West Coast Region (WCR), were arrested in the evening of Tuesday, 4th April 2006. According to family sources, the trio was said to be arrested by the sate security operatives who whisked them away in blue and numberless vehicle with tinted glasses. The former chief and Ndongo Mboob were arrested together while the former was conveying the latter who paid him a visit to him, according to the source. It was reported that Sanyang was arrested from his house also on the same day by the same operatives.last_img

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