Amnesty International has issued an urgent action, urging people to petition the Gambia government on prosecuting human rights defenders. Below is a communique from the UK based rights group.
Human Rights Defender Facing Possibility Of Jail
Gambian human rights defender Sait Matty Jaw is facing trial on 23 December, along with
researchers Seth Yaw Kandeh and Olufemi Erinle Titus, from Ghana and Nigeria respectively, over work done for a survey. They face up to two years’ imprisonment if convicted.
Social activist Sait Matty Jaw, was arrested on 5 November by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), along with Ghanaian national Seth Yaw Kandeh and Nigerian national Olufemi Erinle Titus. All three were working for market research agency FACTS International Ghana Limited. They were arrested for their involvement in a poll survey on “good governance and corruption” to be undertaken for Gallup. They were held without charge for a week. Sait Matty was released on bail on 12 November but rearrested on 10 December and arraigned, along with Seth Kandeh and Olufemi Titus. All three were charged with “conspiracy to commit a misdemeanour”, “failure to register a business” and two counts of “disobedience of statutory duty”. They were granted bail on 17 December, by Magistrate Samsideen Conteh of the Banjul Magistrates’ Court. Bail was set at five million Dalasis in property value (around US$116,000). The trial is to start on 23 December.
Please write immediately in English or your own language:
Calling on the authorities to immediately drop the charges against Sait Matty Jaw, Seth Yaw Kandeh and Olufemi Erinle Titus since they are related solely to the men’s legitimate exercise of their right to freedom of expression;
Urging them to respect and protect the rights to freedom of expression and ensure that human rights defenders are able to carry out their work without hindrance, intimidation or harassment.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 30 JANUARY 2015 TO:
Minister of Justice an Attorney General
Basirou Mahoney, AG Chambers
Ministry of Justice
Salutation: Dear Minister
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International
Cooperation and Gambians Abroad
4, Marina Parade
Fax: +220 422 7917
Salutation: Dear Minister
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:
Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.
URGENT ACTION HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER FACING POSSIBILITY OF JAIL
Sait Matty Jaw is a lecturer at the University of Gambia and served in many leadership positions, including being a representative of ‘Students for Liberty’ in Gambia. He helped found and is currently the coordinator of Think Young Women, a non-profit organization addressing issues affecting young women by building their skills, strengthening their voices to create more impact and support to achieve women’s rights. He was also involved in the Campaign “The Generation That Will End FGM”, co-funded by The Guardian and Equality Now against FGM in Gambia. He was returning from the “The First Global Forum on Youth Policies”convened by the UN in collaboration with UNDP, UNESCO and the Council of Europe held in Baku in Azerbaijan in October 2014 when he was arrested for the first time.
Human rights activists in the Gambia are routinely subjected to unlawful arrest and detention, torture, unfair trial, harassment, assault and death threats, making it extremely difficult for them to do their work. The Mile II Prison is known for being overcrowded and treating prisoners poorly. UN Special Rapporteurs Christof Heyns and Juan Méndez were prevented from completing an investigation into torture and killing, in November. They were not allowed to visit the Security Wing of Mile II prison, which holds those serving lengthy sentences, or facing the death penalty.
President Jammeh reportedly said on national television in September 2009 that he would kill anyone who threatened to destabilize the country. President Jammeh specifically threatened human rights defenders, and those working with them, by emphasizing that their security and personal safety would not be guaranteed by the government of Gambia.
Now this is a REAL Hero, a Steve Biko in the making. I have forwarded this piece to my MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind who was very active on my behalf when I was detained in The Gambia. May God bless him and keep him safe.