Ten or so human rights organisations in Africa have today called upon the international community to take immediate action to put an end to the arbitrary detention and persecution of relatives and family members of people suspected of having taken part in the failed coup d’état in the Gambia.
ARTICLE 19, Amnesty International, Association Des Professionels De La Presse En Ligne (APPEL), Africtivistes, Conseil Des Organisations Non Gouvernementales D’appui Au Développment (CONGRAD), Pan-African Institute For Consumer Citizenship And Development (Cicodev Africa), Ligue Sénégalaise Des Droits De L’homme (LSDH), Organisation Nationale Des Droits De L’homme Au Sénégale (ONDH), The Panos Institute West Africa (IPAO), Rencontre Africaine Pour La Défense Des Droits De L’homme (RADDHO), Société Internationale Pour Les Droits De L’homme (SIDH/Sénégal), Syndicat Des Professionels De L’information Et De La Communication Du Sénégal (Synpics) and Y’en A Marre call upon the Gambian authorities to put an immediate end to secret detentions, including those of people suspected of having taken part in the failed coup d’état and their relatives and family members, to release them or to charge them in a manner consistent with international law, including that relating to a fair trial, without recourse to the death penalty and under international supervision.
President Yahya Jammeh’s regime has intensified the crackdown on any form of dissent and has increased human rights violations, with indiscriminate arrests of military personnel and civilians assumed to be relatives or family members of people suspected of having taken part in the failed coup d’état on 30 December. It has also driven several people into forced exile.
According to the information received, at least 30 people, the majority of whom are civilians and include 1 male adolescent and 7 women (mothers, a former wife and sisters) were arbitrarily arrested and have been held at secret locations for nearly a month in total violation of the Gambian constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Held without charge, these people cannot see their family members or gain access to legal counsel.
This situation is worrying because of the intimidation and arrest threats levelled at people enquiring about the fate of the detainees.
Due to the constant threats and the widespread climate of fear, the media cannot investigate the situation of the detainees. To date, no information about the detention conditions or locations has been made public. This news blackout heightens the concerns and isolation of Gambian families and peoples.
The corpses of people killed during the attack on the presidential palace (Lamin Sanneh, Njaga Jagne, Jarja Nyass and Dawda Bojang) have not been returned to their families.
Call upon the Gambian authorities:
- To put an immediate end to the secret detentions, including those of people suspected of having taken part in the failed coup d’état and their relatives and family members;
- To release these people or to charge them in a manner consistent with international law, including that relating to a fair trial, without recourse to the death penalty and under international supervision.
Call upon the African Union (AU), the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the United Nations (UN):
- To conduct an independent and transparent investigation into the human rights violations;
- To urge the Gambian government to stop all acts of intimidation and persecution aimed at creating a climate of fear and potentially increasing tension in the country.
Call upon the peoples of Senegal, the Gambia and the whole world to participate massively in:
- The digital campaign on the human rights situation in the Gambia, from 30 January to 28 February 2015, based on two major approaches: an action of solidarity with Gambian exiles in Senegal on Facebook, and an action aimed at the Senegalese authorities on Twitter. We will use #DalalAkDiam as the unique hashtag for the entire campaign.