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Keep digging into disappearance of Gambia's Manneh

GPUThe whereabouts of "Chief" Ebrima Manneh, right, the Gambian journalist who has been missing since his arrest by state security agents in July 2006, has become an urgent issue again in the country's media houses, homes, and human rights offices. The question needs to be studied carefully, and no one should draw quick conclusions.

As a journalist for the Gambian daily Foroyaa, I reported on Manneh's disappearance. I later chose to go into exile so I could testify before a regional human rights court in a case brought by the Media Foundation for West Africa. The Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States ultimately found the Gambian government had unlawfully detained Manneh and ordered the journalist's release. The government, which officially denies holding Manneh, has ignored the order.

I met Chief Manneh on assignment about 10 years ago, and we crossed paths several times over the years, both of us in search of news. When Manneh vanished after being arrested at the offices of his paper, the Daily Observer, I was assigned to investigate the case. I searched for Manneh from the Bakau police station to National Intelligence Agency headquarters, from a police station in Sibanor to a lockup in Fatoto. When I reached Fatoto in December 2006, I saw an officer escort Manneh out of a cell and serve him food. I could not interview Manneh and, despite my paper's efforts, police officials would not comment on the sighting.

So it has been for nearly three years. Government officials fail to answer legitimate questions publicly and fully, while sources promote misinformation on the case.

Last week, Gambia's attorney general claimed not to know of Manneh's detention. Then, this week, Agence France-Presse quoted an unnamed police official as saying that security agents took Manneh from Mile Two Prison in 2008. The officer speculated that Manneh was probably dead. We have heard officials give out these shadowy reports before--that Manneh died in 2007, that he was killed a week after his arrest.

Now in Sweden, I have been busy trying to reach my sources for possible updates on Chief Manneh. A staff member at the Jammeh Foundation for Peace Hospital in Bundung tells me Manneh was treated there recently. A prison source tells me Manneh is still being held at Mile Two, in a highly restricted unit.

I am persuaded Chief Manneh is still alive, but the truth is still elusive. I call on all of you to continue reporting. One day the truth will be known. 

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Comments

This is absolutely unfortunate. The young man is such an innocent soul and don't deserve anything of such treatment. For God'' sake, let the Jammeh government release the boy to join his family. Things cannot continue like this.

Remember those suporting the government in this (Securities and any other person like Justice minister), a similar thing can happen to any one in such a lawlessness country. God will surely judge all of us on our actions.


Free Manneh if he is alive.


Alex

i wish that his family wel come him home one day soon.

While everyone is saying that Chief Manneh was arrested in connection with a BBC article he wanted to reproduce in the Daily Observer, but I am made to understand, and I believe that his kidnapping and disappearance has something to do with the killing of a group of ghanaian immigrants in The Gambia in 2005. Chief was at one time in Ghana and it is beileved that he came across some useful information on the issue which he passed on to the Gahanaian authorities. This the Gambian regime came to know about and that was apparently what made them angry with Chief. Therefore, his kidnapping has nothing to do with the BBC story.
While I have no evidence, but I am also of the view th

(Continuation)While I have no evidence to back it up, but I am also of the view that Chief is still alive and detained somewhere in The Gambia.

Kudos Mr Dampha!

Your narative is quite refreshing, albeit worryingly disturbing! It gives me hope, and I dare say it has been an inspiration that there are still people out there making sure that we do not just seek for justice for Manneh and his family But ensuring that justice needs to be seen to be done.
The Gambia's Attorney General's recent statement, though disturbing, atleast indicate that The Gambian authorities have come to realise that not everything can be brushed under the carpet. The callous murder with impunity of journalist Omar Barrow...The indiscrimate shooting and maiming of students out to exercise their legitimate democratic rights...The unexplained cowardly murder of veteran journalist Deyda Hydara.....The list goes on...
You deserve more than commendation, and as the old saying goes, posterity shall judge us all. Keep up the good work, and rest assured, if thanks were in bags you would have received millions of them from me, and i'm sure from a substantial percentage of the Gambian populace, for your selfless sacrifice.

Alieu Badara Sowe April 16, 2009 9:02:32 AM ET

The information received by Demba Jawo regarding the circumstances surrounding the dissapearance of Chief Manneh needs to be looked at seriously. D A Jawo is one of, if not, the most authoritative journalists in The Gambia.
One wonders why, if the authorities in The Gambia have no skeletons in their cupboards, have chosen to remain tight-lipped over the matter until they are pushed to the corner to explain!
The information received by D A Jawo makes a lot of sense to me, and I would urge the Ghanian authorities to without malice do the right thing in the interest of justice and fair play.

Alieu Badara Sowe April 16, 2009 9:22:10 AM ET

jammeeh should know that one day or the other, he will accounted to all his deeds
God is watching,the most knower the most wisw...

The Family of Chief Manneh deserves to have what we in the West have as closure. But this incident is just one of Many which highlight the steps that the Jammeh Regime will take to stay in power in the Gambia.

It is time for ECOWAS to investigate what has happend to this man.

I WAS IN PRISON TOGETHER WITH CHIEF MANNEH AND KANYIBA. KANYIBA WAS PICKED UP ABOUT 2100 HOURS (9PM) AND CHIEF MANNEH WAS PICKED UP AT THE SAME TIME BUT DIFFERENT DATES OF WHICH I CANNOT REMEMBER. I WAS IN MAIL TWO PRISON AND THEY WERE THERE. THE DIRECTOR OF PRISONS KNOWS ABOUT IT. HE KNOWS ME VERY WELL.
THE PRISONERS WHO WILL NOT LIE ARE OMAR SEY, LF JAMMEH AND OTHERS.
MR PRESIDENT, SIR FOR YOUR INFORMATION KANYIBA AND CHIEF MANNEH WHERE ONE TIME AT MILE TWO PRISON. I SAW THEM WITH MY TWO EYES.

David Colley ....Spain April 17, 2009 6:26:53 AM ET

I remember meeting Manneh at Mile Two prison also. He was arrested because of the Ghana killings investigation. Government of GHANA must come forward with Manneh evidence to them. Or Jammeh will kill Manneh qietly. Chief Manneh welcomed President Jammeh to Ghana when Jammeh visited there. Manneh have evidence about Jammeh killing of Ghana citizens so Jammeh will KILL him. World must fight for this boy. Ghana gov also must fight for this boy.

Yaya Dampha's personal reflection on the Chief Manneh saga is instructive indeed. I have learned some new facets surrounding this innocent journalist's predicament. It is maddening for justice-loving Gambians and more poignantly, the Manneh family, to be put through this never-ending spectacle: one instant he is dead; next, he is still alive. Closure continues to be elusive for the Manneh family. Their pain is unconscionable.

Manneh's (continued detention or possible death; whichever) is a damning indictment on President Yahya Jammeh and his slash-and-burn techniques of governance. Manneh's sad narrative is a great explainer of the brutality of the Banjul administration not only in the realm of press freedom but other aspects of society as well. Chief Manneh is the real hero for being a conveyor of the dastardly acts of Jammeh and his thuggish ilk running amok in The Gambia. I think the world of Chief Manneh whether being dead or in solitary confinement. His cause is to be celebrated.

Cherno Baba Jallow April 17, 2009 10:45:08 AM ET

This is yet another sad case. People should not live in a world of guessing, as to whether someone is alive or not. Now that we are trapped in it, his body death or alive better be given to his family. This is a shame to the JAMMEH tyrany once again.

I greatly commend Yaya Dampha for his steadfastness.

Yaya Dampha has set the ball rolling on journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh’s detention once again. Just when most people were being gripped with despair on the reported death of Manneh by AFP, my former colleague at Foroyaa has counseled faith and belief and asked for more efforts to get Manneh released.
Dampha is the most authoritative and one the few reporters in the three year old Chief Manneh detention imbroglio. It was Dampha through Foroyaa who reported the sighting of Manneh in various detention centers around the country. And when Manneh was taken to hospital for treatment by prison personnel’s, it was Dampha who reported it.
I am convinced with his counseling that these security personnel being quoted anonymously could be trying to sow confusion within to confuse those fighting to see Manneh regain his freedom.
And for Secretary of State for Justice Marie Saine Firdaus’ official position on Manneh’s detention before the National Assembly that Manneh is not under state detention should not surprise anyone either. When members of the current Gambia Press Union executive paid a visit to the National Security Council together with advisors Sam Sarr, Suwaibou Conateh and Madi Ceesay, it was almost the same response.
Remember the NSC is supposed to be the highest national security body in the Gambia. But when the Vice President was responding to our concerns, she said she, like any other Gambian reads Manneh’s disappearance in the press. And when it came to the issue of investigating the killing of Deyda Hydary, the response was investigations where still ongoing. The security chiefs that were in attendance even laboured on for minutes to convince us that they them selves could be victims of criminality by narrating how one of them fall victim of house breaking.
That was the National Security Council at the office of the Vice President in which Saine-Firdaus’ office was represented. So for her to go to the National Assembly and state such claims should not surprise anyone. Just as the sate has in the past denied holding UDP’s Rambo Jatta and others before a court until Yaya Dampha together with two Amnesty officials have to expose them before they released him; we should continue the pressure until Manneh is set free.

Continuation: D A Jawo’s comment on the reason for Manneh’s arrest is another eye opener. Throughout my time as a journalist I have never read anything written by Manneh that is critical to the AFPRC government. So, lets continue digging.