Authorities in Gambia must immediately investigate the death in detention of a well-known political activist and release all other peaceful protestors who have been detained, Amnesty International said today.
According to information received by Amnesty International, Solo Sandeng, the National Organizing Secretary of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), died in detention shortly after his arrest for participating in a peaceful protest. The circumstances of his death are as yet unknown.
Another UDP member, Fatoumata Jawara, is also detained and is believed to be suffering from serious injuries. The cause of her injuries is unclear but Amnesty International is deeply concerned for her welfare. Both opposition members were arrested by the police on Thursday 14 April following a peaceful protest in advance of December’s elections.
“The tragic death in detention of Solo Sandeng must leave no space for impunity. The authorities must conduct an immediate, thorough and independent investigation,” said Sabrina Mahtani, Amnesty International West Africa researcher.
“Gambia must uphold the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, especially in advance of the elections. All of the peaceful protestors arrested by the authorities should be immediately and unconditionally released. Any who are injured must receive urgent medical treatment.”
According to people present at the protest, Thursday afternoon’s demonstration in Serrekunda, Banjul, was peaceful with participants holding signs calling for electoral reforms.
The protest was dispersed by police who arrested several people, including the following UDP members: Solo Sandeng, Fatoumata Jawara (Female Youth President), Fatou Camara, (Constituency Women’s Leader), Nokoi Njie (2nd Vice President of the Women’s Wing) and Lang Marong (Deputy Campaign Manager). They were taken to Mile 2 Prison and later to the National Intelligence Agency for interrogation.
Solo Sandeng dedicated many years of his life to politics in Gambia and was previously arrested in 2013 for his political activities.