Human Rights

Gambia: Victims of defiance

By Yaya Dampha
The practice of unlawful arrest and detention

Unlawful arrest and detention feature prominently among the most common methods of violations of people’s civil and political right. Many Gambians and non-Gambians have been subjected to this, resulting to their spending months and years in desolation. While some of these have never had the opportunity to be mentioned by human rights organizations, mainly because their detention have gone largely unnoticed, or that their families do not have a clue about how they can reach the right authorities to report such crimes, and also for many others because they are afraid of reprisal of the perpetrators of these crimes, the consequence has been enforced disappearances. Even for those whose issues have been raised at the highest possible level have had their cases unilaterally dismissed by the authorities responsible.. Marcie Jammeh of Kanilai village- Arrested since 2005. Haruna Jammeh of Kanilai was arrested in 2005; Jisaja Kujabi of Dobong was arrested in 2004 and later released on bail at the Brikama Magistrate Court. He was then been represented by Lawyer Lamin Babadinding Jorbateh. He was charged for allegedly stealing a bull belonging to President Yahya Jammeh, a charge he denied. Kujabi was later re-arrested together with Marcie Jammeh and Haruna Jammeh in the same year. They have since been in custody without any charge forwarded against them. Marcie Jammeh, a ccording to a family member, got involved in a land dispute with President Yahya Jammeh. No one has since heard anything about any of them. But family members believe they have been killed. In Aprl 2006, Momodou Lamin Nyass, former Chief of Kansala, Ndongo Mboob of Bwiam and Buba Sanyang of Kankunto, were all arrested from their respective homes by members of the National Intelligent Agency. Interestingly, these guys were said to be staunch supporters of the ruling APRC party, and as such by supporting an independent candidate against the incumbent APRC candidate in a particular election they were found to have offended the authorities. Their family members have since not heard of them..
Kanyiba Kanyi of Bonto was arrested in August 2006. He was accused by the then Chief of Defense Staff, Colonel Babucarr Jatta, of making life difficult for the ruling APRC in his local constituency of Kombo East. Kanyi’s family members reported that Jatta told Kanyiba that he [Kanyiba] would never see the sun again. Apaprently, that threat seems to have materialized as there doesn’t seems to be any sign him anywhere near. The United Democratic Party has filed an habes corpus in court and in 2007 a high court ordered for his release. This court order has never been honored.
Chief Ebrima Manneh, a journalist with the Daily Observer, was arrested in July 2006. The Ecowas Community Court in Abuja delivered a judgment in his favor and ordered government to release and pay hundred thousand dollars as compensation to his family.  The Gambia government have since not respected this court order. Ebou Jarju, a cook at State House in Banjul, originally from Kombo Darsilami, was arrested in March 2008.
Abdoulie Njie, an Islamic scholar, was arrested in 2006, he has since never been heard of. Sgt Sam Kambai of Gambia National Army, arrested in 2006, again no sign of him.

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