The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) wants The Gambia government to investigate the reports of the death in custody, ensure prompt arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators.
The commission is deeply concerned by the reports of events that took place on 14 and 16 April 2016 in The Gambia when security forces used excessive force on peaceful protesters while torturing others to death.
In a statement, ACHPR also urges the brutal government to ensure the speedy release of all persons arrested and uphold its obligations under the various regional and international human rights treaties to which it is a party, in particular the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The Banjul-based Commission calls on opposition to refrain from all acts of violence during demonstrations, for it “will remain actively seized of the matter.”
“The Commission has received reports regarding demonstrations which took place on Thursday 14 April 2016 and on Saturday 16 April 2016, in parts of the capital city of Banjul, calling for electoral reform in the country,” the ACHPR writes. “It is reported that during the demonstrations a number of people were arrested, including Mr. Ousainou Darboe, the leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP).”
The Commission also acknowledges receiving the death in custody of the UDP Organising Secretary Mr. Solo Sandeng who died shortly after his detention. “Without in any way reaching conclusions on the above allegations, the Commission is concerned that if the allegations are true they will amount to violations of Articles 4, 7, 9 and 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter).”
The continental Commission’s Chairperson Pansy Tlakula discussed the situation with The Gambia’s Justice Minister Mama Fatima Singhateh who noted that unlawful assemblies were held during the weekend of 14 April 2016. She also told Tlakula that security forces tried to manage the situation, and a number of people were arrested.
Minister Singhateh said investigations were ongoing and that her office would provide response to the Commission when available.