CHRG Campaign for Human Rights in The Gambia

What do we do?

We will be campaigning on the following issues:

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS COMMITTED AGAINST JOURNALISTS AND THE ATTACK ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

The Gambian consititution chapter IV Articel 25 provides for freedom of epeech,expression,the press and other media.Article 19 of the ICCPR ensures that everyone has the rights to hold opinions without interference.Further its states that.Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression.This rights includes the freedom to seek,recieve,and impart information and ideas of all kinds,regardless of frontiers,either orally,in witing or in print,in the form of art.or through any other media.Despite thses obligations under international and national law,freedom of expression has been uner attack since 1994,and each year the space in which the media can operate become smaller and more dangerous.Jouranalist and other memers of the media are routinely subjected to haumn rights violations,such as unlawful arrests and detentions,torture,unfair trials,harassment,assaults,death threats and closures,making it exremely difficult to do their work. Since 2004 journalists and media staff have been working under restrictive media laws which impose criminal penalties on private publications that fail to resgister and pay each year to renew thier licence.These laws are the Newspaper Amendment Act and the Criminal Code Amendment Act 2004.In july 2002 further repressive legislation was imposed in the form of Media Commission Act.This commission established a code of conduct for independent media,including setting a standard for content and qualify for printb and broadcast materials,and maintained a registry of all media practitioners and organisations.The commission was given power to force journalists to reaveal their sources and could issue arrest warrants for journalists who ignored such summonds.In the end the legislation governing the commission was repeal however the government fought back and the National Assembly passed the Newspaper Amendment Act and the Criminal Code Amendment Act 13 December 2006.These Acts have been in force dince then.

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RIGHT TO A FAIT TRIAL

Despite national and international legal obligations which Gambia is party to,the presumption of innocence and other fair trials rights are routinely violated in Gambia specially in political trials.In March and April 2006 Amnesty International released urgent actions to raise medical concerns for detainees due to fears of torture and ill-treatment while in detention including 10 military personel and five civilians who satyed in the pre-trials detention for six weeks untill they were formally charged on the 10 May 2006.Detainees were detained in solitary confinement in Mile 2 Central prison,and were not granted access to families,or lawyers.Those held were also reportedly tortured,including being beaten and forced to sign confessions.Throughout their detention detainees were seen in the hospital by journalist seeking treatment for injuries they had recieve while in detention.Evidence of torture was also evident when detainees paaeared in court with wounds and injuries. Historically,the deterioation of the judicarys independence has been due to frequent interference by the executive.The interference was characterized by the president removing and appointing jurges at will without consultation with the Judcial Service Commission.However the presidential power of removal of a jurge in consultation with the JSC under section 141(2)(c) is a serious concern in relation to judicial independence.The International Bar Associations August 2006 report states Given the institutional weakness and the dominance of presidential appointees on the JSC,the absence of any constitutional safeguards requiring a fair and independent process.

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ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES

Amnesty International is aware of stances inwhich unlawful detention results in enforced disappearances.Journalists have alos been at risk of becoming victims of enforced disappearnces,including Chief Ebrima Manneh a reporter at the government owned newspaper Daily Observer who has not been seen since he was arrested on 11 july by National Intelllegence Agency(NIA) at the newspaper offices. In Gambia oposition politicians and their supporters when percieved to gain too much power and threathed the status quo cab ne atb risk of becoming victims of engorced disapearnces.There are numerous cases of enforced disappearnces unresolve in the Gambia.

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TORTURE AND ILL TREATMENT IN DETENTION

In the Gambia spaecial unit within the NIA(sometimes known as green boys,ninjas or drug boys) as well as the Presudents personal protection officers who are under the control of the president,members of the army and the police are alleged to have torture detainees.In Gambia torture is use to obtain information,as well as punishment and to extract confessions that can be use as evidence in a court of law. According to AI sources during interrogation,detainees have reportely had their head covered with plastic bags and their heads put under water for a very long periods,simulating suffocation.Others have been exposed to electric shocks,including shocks to the genitals,cigarette burns,stabbing with knife,tying up with ropes and whipping with chains.

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UNLAWFUL KILLINGS

Since the government came to power in 1994,unlawful killings have been carried out routinely,mostly against those suspected of plotting coups and other percieved oponents,Soon after the military coup in 1994,another took place in Novemver 1994.The response by the new leadership was to extrajudicially execute 14 member of the army who were suspected of been involved.In january 2000,another coup was attempted and arborted,this resulted in the death of the alleged leader of the coup in Banjul which was considered to be an unlawful killing.

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HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS COMMITED AGAINST JOURNALISTS AND THE ATTCK ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.

jouranalists and other member of the media are routinely subjected to human rights violations,suvj as unlawful arrests and detention,torture,unfair trials,harrasements,assaults,death threatsand closures making it exremely difficult to do their work.Since 2004 journalists and media staff have been working under restrictive media laws which imposes criminal penalties on private publications that fails to register and pay each year to renew their licence.These laws are the Nerwspaper Amendment Acts and the Criminal Code Amendment Act 2004.

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POOR PRISON CONDITION

The harsh conditions of the State central prison Mile 2 - overcrowding,poor sanitary conditions and foul food can in themselve be considerd a form of cruel,inhumane and degrading treatment.The conditions in the maxinmum security cell at mile 2 were considerd particlarly hasrsh.Victims have also provided testimonies of food been withheld,being kept in solitary confinement for long period without access tom daylights,food or excercise and being subjected to inhumane conditions including mosquitoe infested areas where they were exposed to the risk of malaria and were refused medical treatment. AI is aware of at least 19 people who have died while in prison in mile 2 since 2005.The apalling conditions are believe to have contributed to the large number of deaths reported there.

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Take action

Demand justice for the Gambian people

Since 1994 when the then army lieutenant Yahya Jammeh over”throwed a democratically elected govenment human rights,civil liberty and political freedom have detoriated significantly.Detentions without trials,extra judicial executions,torture and enforced disappearance of citizens still exists in different part of the country.Journalists,human rights defenders and political activists are intimidated,abducted and tortured.

Please sign the Amnesty International petition and urge the UK government to take action and Ban Ki Moon UN Secretary General to appoint a panel of experts to advise him on Gambias critical human rights situation.

Amnesty Stop Rule of Fear Gambia Petition
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Supported by:

The Campaign for Human rights in the Gambia is awaiting charitable status.