Senator calls for Gambian journalist's release

By Frank Smyth/Washington Representative and Journalist Security Coordinator on July 31, 2008 11:22 AM ET

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said he wanted to focus his colleagues' attention on a tragic story in a small West African nation. Chief Ebrima Manneh is a reporter in the Gambia for the state-controlled Daily Observer newspaper. He was arrested by two plainclothes officers from the country's National Intelligence Agency at the newspaper's office building in July 2006. Why? He tried to republish in the Daily Observer a BBC report critical of President Yahya Jammeh, local journalists and the Gambian press union told CPJ at the time.

As far as anyone knows, Manneh was never charged with a crime. Gambian authorities have refused to provide information on the journalist's whereabouts, health and legal status. In a 2007 interview with CPJ, then government communications secretary Neneh Macdouall-Gaye denied that Manneh was in government custody.

But local journalists reported that Manneh was seen under armed guard at the Royal Victorian Teaching Hospital in July 2007 in Banjul, and again that September in the far eastern Fatoto Prison.

Durbin noted Wednesday on the Senate floor that Amnesty International considers Manneh a prisoner of conscience. The senator went on to say that the Gambian government, despite efforts by groups including the Committee to Protect Journalists, continues to deny any involvement in his arrest or knowledge of his whereabouts.

"My direct request to the Gambian Embassy here in Washington has also been met with shameful silence," Durbin added. Last month in Nigeria, the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States declared the arrest and apparent ongoing detention of Manneh illegal and ordered Gambian officials to release him.

In its July 4 edition, the Daily Observer quoted the Minority Leader in the Gambian Parliament, Momodou Sanneh, as calling on the government to "deal with the matter."

"Is the Gambian government so afraid of one of its own reporters that it cannot even acknowledge his detention?" Durbin asked. "I say to President Jammeh: Release this reporter. Let him return to his family."


Well i will first thank Sen.Richards Durbin for the step he has taken to facilitate the release of Chief Ebrima Manneh. It is complete lie that the Gambian Government continue dening the arrest of Chief Manneh.
Chief was arrested on the 7th July 2006 at the Daily Observer premesis in my present by the two security agents. I first spoke about it when the association of Human Right Journalist organised a forum in remembrance of Mr Manneh. I also testified in the ECOWAS Community Court in Abuja, Nigeria against the Gambian Government with Yaya Dampha who is currently in Sweden.
Based on our evidence before the court, the Gambian Government was ordered to unconditionally released Chief Manneh.
I am currently in New York, USA and would like associate myself with any group to make sure that Manneh is released if only he is alive.
Thank you

i would like to thank the senator for their call. we are soliciting for the total release of manneh in the nearest possibility of time.

I would like to thank Sen.Richards Durbin for taking this wondful steps to persuade his government to facilitate the realese of Chief Ebrima Manneh.I would also commend my friend my brother Pa Ousman Darboe for being bold enough to go with me to the ECOWAS court in Abuja to serve as prosecution withnesses.
God knows Manneh was arrested from the Daily observer office on the 7 july 2006.Ousman was there but not alone.He was the only staff volunteered to serve as a prosecution withness.
I reported on Foroyaa in in january 2007 that i saw Manneh under police costody at Fatoto police station in december 2006.I told this to the court in Abuja.And right now my sources from Banjul says Manneh is now being detained at a secret detention center inBundung, a compound occoupied by NIA operatives along the JFP Jammeh Foundation for Hospital.
I am ready to associate myself to any group in trying to ensure the release of Chief Manneh.He is not dead he is alive.

It is great to hear that this case was raised on the Floor of the United States Senate. It is a shame when one cannot practice their chosen Profession especially when the information reportedly will embarrass a leader.

Let us Hope and Pray that what happened Dedya Hydara does not happen here.

It is great that the plight of Chief Manneh is drawing the attention of the world to the dismal human rights situation in The Gambia. Yaya Dampha needs to be commended for his courage and resilience in an effort to get to the bottom of this besire case. Now that subregional and international concerned groups have lifted a finger, pressure must remain on the murderous regime to account for the many others who are either missing or simply killed. A dictator like Jammeh, who has mastered the art of lying and deception must not be cuddled mut confronted with the full force of the civilized world.

Capt (Rtd) Alhajie Kanteh

Capt (Rtd) Alhajie Kanteh April 24, 2009 12:30:36 PM ET

CJ:Very well written facts. Rather than loniokg into the fact that how common man is fooled by a Wall Street and big lenders, they would blame immigrants for loss of job and unemployment. Non-immigrant workers are not even 5% of population, but they will be blamed for wrong doings of Major Financial Firms . No one would go back and see how lending system needs a huge overhaul, and loans should be approved according to the individuals annual income and payback capability and not credit score alone. Being responsible does not mean that one has money to payback loans. America itself is built of immigrants. America belongs to Red Indians and rest of this country is built on immigration ( 100 150 years back, great grandfathers father of so called US citizens were also immigrants)

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