By Yaya Dampha
Detention without trial and disappearances of persons are so alarming in Gambia that the government should see the need to investigate the issues and see to it that the rights of its citizens are protected. It is many years now since the reported disappearance of many people. Some of the families claimed that their loved ones were arrested by people who identified themselves as members of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
Several families are today left without family heads after their loved ones were whisked away in unregistered vehicles to unknown places. This is really worrying since the police and the National Intelligence Agency are now being accused of kidnapping people whose faiths are left in blind destiny. It is therefore prudent for the international community to reflect on this and try to put a stop to such practices. This is indeed equivalent to terrorist act.
Jollof News have been contacting its indefatigable sources around the country among them family members of some of the following people who have not been heard of or seen since their arrests:
Chief Ebrima Manneh, a journalist with the Daily Observer Newspaper. He was arrested on the 7th July 2006 by two plain cloths officers who identified themselves as members of the NIA. He was picked up from the offices of the Daily Observer in the presence of some of his co-workers. This reporter later saw him under police custody at Fatoto police station in December 2006.
Mr. kanyiba Kanyi, former employee of CCF. His family said he was arrested at his home in Bonto by security agents who were accompanied by the then Chief of Defense Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), Rtd Colonel Babucarr Jatta. Kanyi has since not been heard of.
Jasaja Kujabi of Dobong Village in Foni; his family said he was arrested from his farm in 2005 by people who identified themselves as members of the NIA. He was said to have been escorted to get properly dressed before been whisked away. He has since not been heard of.
Marcie Jammeh and Haruna Jammeh, all of Kanilai Village, were arrested by soldiers from their various homes, in 2005, and whisked away to an unknown destination in an unregistered vehicle. Their families have since lost contact with them. Many in the Foni have since presumed them death.
Momodou Lamin Nyass, former chief of Foni Kansala, Buba Sanyang of Kankuntu Village, the ruling APRC party Youth Mobilizer and Ndongo Mboob of Bwiam, also in Foni, another APRC youth leader, were all arrested in 2006. Their families said they have since not been heard of.
Samsudeen Jammeh of Sutusinjang in Foni; arrested since 2006. This reporter was in the same cell with him in October 2007 during his arrest, together with members of Amnesty International. He was reportedly later transferred to mile II prison.
Aliue Lowe and Abdoulie Njie were arrested in the aftermath of the alleged March 21st foiled coup. They are still being detained at mile II and their families said they haven’t had access to them.
Bakary Gassama, former accountant at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), was arrested in 2008 and still remains detained in Mile II.
General Lang Tombong Tamba, former Chief of Defense Staff, General Momodou Lamin Bo Badjie, former Director General of the NIA, General Kawsu [Bombardier] Kamara, former camp commander at Kanilai, Ngorr Secka, former Deputy Gambian Ambassador to Guinea Bissau, and Lai Jeng, a businessman in Banjul, were all arrested in November 2009. The state have since not given any public statement on their arrests and their families and lawyers have no access to them.
It is therefore clear that the continued detention of these people is a gross violation of their Human and constitutional rights under the Gambia’s own constitution, the African charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and United Nations treaties.
The constitution of the Gambia states that any person arrested shall be informed of the reason(s) of his/her arrest within three hours in a language she or he understands. It further states that any person detained shall be taken to court within seventy-two (72) hours or be released conditionally or unconditionally.
So it is a fundamental knowledge that the continued detention of persons above the constitutionally stipulated time is illegal.
By Yaya Dampha