5 July 2010

Gambia: Disappearance Without Trace or Detention Without Trial

The year 2010 has now gone half way, yet some Gambian families continue to live in distress due to the long detention and disappearance of their loved ones and family heads. Most of these victims of disappearance and detention have not been seen or heard about by their families.

According to the affected families, these loved ones who have disappeared were taken away by unknown men in plain clothes some years ago. The following are the people who are not seen or heard by their families:

Mr. Jasarja Kujabi, a native of Dobong village in the Foni Kansala District went missing since the summer of 2005. The family said he was taken away while working at his farm with some of his family members.

Corporal Alfusainey Jammeh, a Prison Officer and a native of Kanilai village, went missing since the summer of 2005. His family said he was posted at the compound of the Director of Prisons at Kanilai and from where he was called to answer at the Police Headquarters in Banjul after which he never returned home to this day.

Mr. Haruna Jammeh and Madam Marcie Jammeh, both natives of Kanilai village, went missing at the same time in the summer of 2005 from their village. Their families cannot trace them up to now.

The former District Chief of Foni Kansala, Alagie Momodou Lamin Nyassi, Alagie Buba Sanyang (alias Bubai Sanyang) and Ndongo Mboob, all natives of Foni Bwiam, went missing since 2006. Their families said since the three men were picked up by three men in plain clothes on board a pickup vehicle on the evening of 4 April 2006 they have not seen or heard from.

Journalist Ebrima Manneh (alias Chief Manneh) went missing since 7th July 2006, after reporting to work and never returned home. His colleagues at work said he was picked up by men in plain clothes at their office in Bakau. Family and friends said they have searched for him throughout the entire country and have also visited all the known places of detention e.g. police stations, NIA and prisons but without any trace of him. The Gambia government has always denied having him in their custody. The Media Foundation of West Africa (MFWA) took the matter to the Regional ECOWAS Court in Abuja for The Gambia government to release him. The court made an order for The Gambian authorities to release and compensate him an amount of US 100,000.

Mr. Kanyiba Kanyi, an employee of the Christian Children Fund (CCF), and said to be an opposition supporter, went missing since 18th September 2006. His family said he was arrested by men in plain clothes at his house in Bonto village in Kombo East. His younger brother was also arrested on the same evening but later released after spending a night in detention at the Serious Crime Unit at Police Headquarters in Banjul.

The family said Mr. Kanyi was taken away on board a taxi with three men while they looked on. His family took Lawyer Ousainou Darboe who filed a "Habeas Corpus" at the High Court for the state produced him. The matter was heard by several judges, most of whom ordered for Kanyiba be released by the state but to no avail. Last year, the third judge sent the case file back to the office of the Chief Justice. Since then things are stagnant.

The following people have been in detention for years and months without any trial known to their families.

Mr. Alieu Lowe and Abdoulie Njie, both residents of Fagi Kunda, who were arrested shortly after the 21 March 2006 coup plot. Their families said they are currently being detained at Mile 2 Central Prison. The families said they have access to them.

Mr. Ebou Jarju, a native of Kombo Dasilameh and a former Steward at State House, was arrested in the presence of his family on 20th March 2008. He was then released on 11 January 2009, only to be re-arrested a week later and put under detention. His family said he is currently being detained at Mile 2 Prison. They said they do not have access to him in prison.

Mr Nema Ceesay and Jankeydinding Samateh, a cousin and sister to Mr Sillaba Samateh, respectively, were arrested about three weeks ago after Sillaba, a witness in the criminal trial of the former Inspector General of Police Ensa Badjie, was said to have absconded. The family said the two are currently being held at the NIA Headquarters in Banjul.

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