The conviction of opposition leader Ousainou Darboe and 18 other peaceful protestors highlights the continuing downward spiral for human rights in Gambia, Amnesty International said today.
Following a court decision this afternoon, 19 people including the leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP) have been sentenced to three years imprisonment. They were found guilty on six counts relating to participating in unauthorised protests on 16 April 2016 in the outskirts of the capital Banjul. They were found not guilty of incitement to violence, while one man was found not guilty on all counts.
The sentencing of senior opposition figures such as Ousainou Darboe is the latest in a continuous chain of violations committed against those who dare to speak out in Gambia
“The sentencing of senior opposition figures such as Ousainou Darboe is the latest in a continuous chain of violations committed against those who dare to speak out in Gambia,” said Stephen Cockburn, Deputy Regional Director for Amnesty International in West and Central Africa.
“Amnesty International considers all those who continue to languish in jail for protesting peacefully to be prisoners of conscience, who should be immediately and unconditionally released.”
The 19 people convicted were arrested on 16 April during a peaceful protest that was calling for the release of dozens of UDP supporters who had been arrested during demonstrations just two days earlier.
They were also demanding an investigation into the death in custody of UDP National Organising Secretary Solo Sandeng, arrested on 14 April. One witness described in a court affidavit how she had seen the beaten body of Solo Sandeng at the National Intelligence Agency headquarters, swollen and bleeding.
The verdict comes two days before the 22nd anniversary of the coup d’état that brought President Yaya Jammeh to power, and less than five months before Presidential elections are due to be held in Gambia.
In June 2016, Amnesty International launched a report detailing the further decline in freedom of expression and in respect for human rights since the last elections in 2011, including repressive new laws, arrests of journalists and opposition members, and widespread surveillance.
The organisation called on ECOWAS to consider suspending Gambia if progress was not made in improving the human rights situation before upcoming elections. During a summit in June, ECOWAS Heads of State called on Gambia to refrain from using excessive force against protestors and to launch a political dialogue with opposition parties.
Imprisoning opposition leaders and their supporters for protesting peacefully not only fragrantly violates their human rights but is also likely to enflame an already tense situation
More than 25 others remain in detention awaiting trial for their parts in protests in April and May.
“Imprisoning opposition leaders and their supporters for protesting peacefully not only fragrantly violates their human rights but is also likely to enflame an already tense situation,” said Stephen Cockburn.
“With just five months before elections are due to be held, the Gambian authorities should take urgent measures to ensure that people can express themselves without fear of reprisals. If they do not, ECOWAS and the international community should not stand idly by.”
Source: Amnesty International
The noose has already been set in place, round the MURDEROUS OPPRESSIVE kanilai killer DEVIL’s neck long time ago; & is tightening gradually every event & moment by; hence the saying “give a (barbaric) fool long rope to hang himself”; such is the matter with our self-destructive MURDEROUS kanilai OPPRESSOR…
Devil yaya jammeh isn’t the least at peace; but already in HELL in an “open prison” evident in the concupiscence absence at regional & worldly bodies where Gambia belong & a signatory, for transgressive atrocities being committed against Gambians generally & humanity at large…
All ways & means, continually are set in play optionally in endeavoured efforts on successful terminating EVIL yaya DEVIL & collaborative elements until successful; the lights are out already at end of the tunnel; just matter of time; Insha Allah…
Long live the Gambia…
As a conflict prevention measure and to ensure a free and fair Presidential election in December 2016 United nations Peace Keeping soldiers needed in the Gambia now at least 4 months before the planned elections to serve as parallel security force for the Gambia Forces who are only defending the interest of Only the President. This I think is the only way the Presidential elections 2016 in the Gambia can be won by the opposition because the greater majority of discontented Gambian citizens can vote freely without undue fear of possible reprisals from the APRC regime ruling the country since the unconstitutional and undemocratiic Army Coup d’etat in 1994.