I want to register my concern over the ONGOING HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES in my beloved country The Gambia. As some of you may have known The Gambia had been hailed for being a peaceful country until July 1994, when Yahya Jammeh seized power in a coup whose aftermath resulted to the destruction of the country’s gains.
It is a shame that our once Smiling Coast has today become the Crying Coast of the region. This has been proven by rampant detention without trial in a country that still calls itself a true democracy. Apart from several months of illegal detention without trial, torture has been officialised by members of thr National Intelligence Agency (NIA), which is answerable directly to President Yahya Jammeh’s office. This is unimaginable. Cries of tortured victims fill the air at the NIA torture chambers in Banjul.
The Gambia’s problems have been compounded by the arrogant attitude of Yahya Jammeh who has been in power for two decades. He refuses to step down and would not accept electoral reforms either. His reaction to whoever criticises his designed electoral reform is death. Gambians are facing high risk of torture, arbitrary detentions and enhanced disappearance on daily basis. Ironically, there is lack of adequate accountability among law enforcemen and security forces.
The forceful arrest of the United Democratic Party leader Ousainou Lawyer Darboe, his executive members and supporters for peacefully protesting against injustice meted out on April 14th peaceful protesters. Mr. Darboe and others took to the streets to showcase their fundamental human rights, demanding for the release of Solo Sandeng dead or alive. Sandeng led a handful of opposition youth activists to hold a peaceful demonstration to demand for political reform ahead of Decembe 2016 presidential election.
The Gambia government has arrested unknow number of UDP party militants and sent them to unknown detention centres across the country. Some of the detainees, including Solo Sandeng are still unaccountable for by their families. The government unashamedly admitting the death of Mr. Sanding without providing telling the public he was tortured and buried in secret. Not even his family was given the right to bury him.
One would expect any government with moral decency to investigate Solo’s case thoroughly, inform the public about its findings and hold those responsible accountable for their deed. But the government has since been busying with dragging Darboe and co in endless court proceedings designed purposely to kill the spirit of the opposition. This is in line with Yahya Jammeh’s plans to make The Gambia a one party state. He sees the UDP as the main obstacle to realising his selfish interest.