Junio 20, 2007

MFWA Sues Gambia Government at ECOWAS Court over “Disappeared” Journalist

Wednesday 20th June 2007

The Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja, Nigeria, has issued a hearing notice for a suit filed against the Republic of The Gambia by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) on behalf of a “disappeared” Gambian journalist, Chief Ebrima Manneh, a reporter of the Banjul-based Daily Observer newspaper.

This follows an application filed on behalf of the journalist by MFWA through its Journalists’ Legal Defence Programme. The application seeks an order from the sub-regional court to get the government of President Yahya Jammeh to immediately release Chief Manneh and compensate him adequately.

The court has fixed July 10, 2007 for the hearing. The date coincides with the eve of the first anniversary of Manneh’s arrest and incarceration. Colleagues of Manneh witnessed his arrest by two plain-clothes security personnel at the Daily Observer’s premises in July 2006. But the government and police claim they do not know the whereabouts of Manneh.

The writ, filed by Nigerian human rights lawyer Femi Falana, a member of the MFWA Legal Defence Network, said that the arrest of Manneh without warrant and his continual detention is unlawful and a violation of his right as guaranteed under Articles 4, 5 and 7 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. It also violates Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights which guarantees his right to personal liberty.

The Gambian government has blatantly refused several requests from human rights groups to either release or charge Manneh if he has committed any offence.

In a reaction to the continued demands for the release of Manneh, the Gambia Police Force, after eight months of the journalist’s disappearance, on 21 February 2007 officially denied ever arresting him and urged the general public to furnish it with any “relevant” information about him.

MFWA sources have indicated earlier that after his arrest, Manneh was detained variously at the NIA Headquarters, Mile Two Central Prisons, Kartong Police Station, Sibanor Police Station, Kuntaur Police Station and then at Fatoto Police Station where he was last spotted after 188 days incommunicado.

Gambian media practitioners have been subjected to unlawful arrests, detentions, murder, and closure of newspapers resulting in several journalists escaping into exile. Those within are practising self-censorship as a means of protection, MFWA concludes.


Posted by marga at Junio 20, 2007 5:05 PM | TrackBack
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