Annual Report: Gambia 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Gambia 2013

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  • On 3 December, two NIA officers arrested Imam Baba Leigh, a prominent Muslim cleric and human rights activist. Imam Leigh publicly condemned the execution of nine inmates at Mile II prison in August when he called the executions “un-Islamic” and urged the government to return the bodies to the families for proper burial. Subsequently, Imam Leigh was not brought before a court, his detention was not acknowledged by the NIA, and his family and lawyer remained unaware of his fate and whereabouts. As such, he was subjected to enforced disappearance and was at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. At the end of the year, Amnesty International believed he was held by state agents and considered him a prisoner of conscience.

Prison conditions

Poor sanitation, illness, lack of medical care, overcrowding, extreme heat and malnutrition plagued Gambia's prisons. External monitors were not allowed access. Lack of equipment such as fire extinguishers put prisoners' safety at risk.

Prisoners on death row were not allowed visits by family or friends. Food in prisons was of poor quality but only remand prisoners were allowed food from outside. Rehabilitation programmes were non-existent.

In October, it was reported that four inmates had died from illness, including two death row prisoners, Abba Hydara and Guinea-Bissau national Sulayman Ceesay; further information was not available. According to sources, inmate Amadou Faal, known as Njagga, was severely beaten in October by a prison officer. He suffered the loss of his eye but was denied medical care for several days. The prison officer was not disciplined or charged.

Amnesty International visits/reports

  • The Gambia must release four activists jailed for distributing anti-government T-shirts (AFR 27/001/2012)
  • Gambia: Statement for 52nd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (AFR 27/011/2012)
  • Gambia: Two Gambian journalists receive death threats (AFR 27/012/2012)
  • Gambia: Government must stop intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and government critics (AFR 27/015/2012)