THE GAMBIA: Secret Prisons

THE GAMBIA: Secret Prisons Human rights abuses are again highlighted. President Yayah Jammeh’s government is again under international spotlight for human rights abuses, the second time in less than six months. Two international rights groups— Amnesty International and the Nigeria ‐based Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre ( WARDC)— in their latest report revealed that several Nigerians and other African citizens were being held in secret prisons in the Gambia. They made the revelation in a statement issued to the press on February 9th and maintain that the foreigners held in Gambia’s secret military and police jails have been held there without trial. They did not indicate the number of those imprisoned or the offences for which they were being held. Gambia has secret detention centres inside the Mile 2 maximum security prison near the capital as well as in military barracks and in police stations in remote places in the country, the statement said. The statement challenged the Nigerian government “to demand better human rights record from the Gambian government” during the United Nations sessions. (The Nation 10/2) Criticism of the regime’s human rights record has also come from within. Mr. Ousainu Darboe , secretary‐general and party leader of the opposition United Democratic Party ( UDP ), in his independence day message, said people were still being arrested and locked up without charge and in some cases “those who have been tried and acquitted are rearrested and detained at the behest of the Executive”. He said citizens had also disappeared after having been picked up from their homes or work places by state security personnel, citing the mysterious disappearances of journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh and the UDP Kombo East constituency Secretary Kanyiba Kanyi who have remained untraceable over three years. Darboe called for a leadership that was truly committed to serving the wishes of the people, adding that leadership in the service of the nation, skillful and judicious management of the state resources and fiscal and financial discipline should be the watchwords. He said: “After 45 years of nationhood, we should be able to point at tangible progress that positively impact on the lives of the ordinary citizens. We have borrowed millions of dollars and dalasi (the local currency) which in some instances have not been properly utilised. Our children and grand children will be burdened with this huge debt.” (PANA, Banjul 19/2) Meanwhile, the Gambia has expelled the (UN Children’s Agency) UNICEF envoy, Ms Min‐Whee Kang from South Korea, the agency said on February 15th. She is the second UN official to be expelled from Gambia in the past three years. The local head of the UN Development Programme ( UNDP ) was forced to leave in February 2007 after voicing doubt over President Jammeh’s claim to be able to cure AIDS, using a combination of mystical powers and herbs. The UNDP official had warned that Jammeh risked undermining efforts to tackle the disease. (©AFP, Banjul 15/2 2010) Local newspaper Forayaa said the reason for the envoy’s expulsion was not known. (Forayaa 17/2) See p 18287 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Africa Research Bulletin: Political, Social and Cultural Series Wiley

THE GAMBIA: Secret Prisons

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
© Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2010
ISSN
0001-9844
eISSN
1467-825X
D.O.I.
10.1111/j.1467-825X.2010.03136.x
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Abstract

Human rights abuses are again highlighted. President Yayah Jammeh’s government is again under international spotlight for human rights abuses, the second time in less than six months. Two international rights groups— Amnesty International and the Nigeria ‐based Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre ( WARDC)— in their latest report revealed that several Nigerians and other African citizens were being held in secret prisons in the Gambia. They made the revelation in a statement issued to the press on February 9th and maintain that the foreigners held in Gambia’s secret military and police jails have been held there without trial. They did not indicate the number of those imprisoned or the offences for which they were being held. Gambia has secret detention centres inside the Mile 2 maximum security prison near the capital as well as in military barracks and in police stations in remote places in the country, the statement said. The statement challenged the Nigerian government “to demand better human rights record from the Gambian government” during the United Nations sessions. (The Nation 10/2) Criticism of the regime’s human rights record has also come from within. Mr. Ousainu Darboe , secretary‐general and party leader of the opposition United Democratic Party ( UDP ), in his independence day message, said people were still being arrested and locked up without charge and in some cases “those who have been tried and acquitted are rearrested and detained at the behest of the Executive”. He said citizens had also disappeared after having been picked up from their homes or work places by state security personnel, citing the mysterious disappearances of journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh and the UDP Kombo East constituency Secretary Kanyiba Kanyi who have remained untraceable over three years. Darboe called for a leadership that was truly committed to serving the wishes of the people, adding that leadership in the service of the nation, skillful and judicious management of the state resources and fiscal and financial discipline should be the watchwords. He said: “After 45 years of nationhood, we should be able to point at tangible progress that positively impact on the lives of the ordinary citizens. We have borrowed millions of dollars and dalasi (the local currency) which in some instances have not been properly utilised. Our children and grand children will be burdened with this huge debt.” (PANA, Banjul 19/2) Meanwhile, the Gambia has expelled the (UN Children’s Agency) UNICEF envoy, Ms Min‐Whee Kang from South Korea, the agency said on February 15th. She is the second UN official to be expelled from Gambia in the past three years. The local head of the UN Development Programme ( UNDP ) was forced to leave in February 2007 after voicing doubt over President Jammeh’s claim to be able to cure AIDS, using a combination of mystical powers and herbs. The UNDP official had warned that Jammeh risked undermining efforts to tackle the disease. (©AFP, Banjul 15/2 2010) Local newspaper Forayaa said the reason for the envoy’s expulsion was not known. (Forayaa 17/2) See p 18287

Journal

Africa Research Bulletin: Political, Social and Cultural SeriesWiley

Published: Mar 1, 2010

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