14 December 2012

Gambia: Amnesty International Campaigns for Release of Imam

Banjul — Following the holding of a prominent Islamic scholar and Imam, Baba Leigh, incommunicado detention without charge since December 3, 2012, Amnesty International has launched a campaign for his release.

On December 3 eyewitnesses reported seeing two National Intelligence Agency (NIA) officers arrive at the home of Imam Baba Leigh at around 10:00 pm. The officers informed Imam Baba Leigh that he was being taken to their headquarters for questioning, but they did not provide any further information. Imam Baba Leigh has not been seen since.

His family believes he is being held in detention at the NIA headquarters. Neither his family nor his lawyer has been able to visit him.

In its statement calling for mass international appeals for the release of Imam Baba Leigh, Amnesty International points out that the incommunicado detention of Imam Baba Leigh without charge is contrary to section 19 (3) of the Gambian Constitution, "which guarantees the right to be brought before a court of law within 72 hours, and to international and regional human rights law and standards."

The campaign statement has called on recipients to write immediately in English or their own languages to the Director General of the NIA, the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Foreign Affairs before January 22, 2013:

'Urging the authorities to ensure that Imam Baba Leigh is brought before a court of law as a matter of urgency and charged with recognizable criminal offence or released and urging the authorities to allow Imam Baba Leigh immediate access to his family and his lawyer.'

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