The Committee to Protect Journalist urges you to end an unprecedented level of intimidation and detention of Gambian journalists by national security forces. Today marks the third anniversary of the disappearance of journalist "Chief" Ebrima Manneh--his whereabouts, health, and legal status are unknown. Manneh, a former reporter for the Daily Observer, was taken into government custody by security agents in July 2006.
Your government has
consistently denied holding Manneh or having knowledge of his whereabouts
despite eyewitness accounts of his arrest at the newspaper's premises. Last
April, Attorney General and Justice Minister Marie Saine Firdaus told National
Assembly members that Manneh was not in government custody. The former communications secretary and current
ambassador to the
In other instances your government has ignored calls for Manneh's release. Last year the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ordered your government to release him and pay his family damages of US$100,000. But the legal order has been ignored and no government personnel attended the court proceedings. We are also aware that attorneys for Manneh have filed a petition on his behalf with the United Nations Human Rights Council's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and that a decision from this group is expected later this summer. Your Excellency, we call on you to look into this matter and end a virtual three-year government silence on Manneh's whereabouts.
We also join with
the global community in expressing concern about Monday's court charges against
seven independent journalists by the High Court in
charges are designed to silence the independent press. They further tarnish
your country's press freedom record, making the
can be reversed if your government adheres to its pledges as a signatory to
Article 9 of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights to uphold
press freedom and unconditionally drop all charges against these seven
journalists. We also call on you as a member of ECOWAS to address Ebrima
Manneh's case immediately. Such action will pave the way for an end to impunity
against journalists in the
Thank you for your attention to these pressing matters. We look forward to your reply.