Gambia passes harsh sentence on street protesters
From MOMODOU DIBBA in Banjul, Gambia
BANJUL, (CAJ News) – WIDESPREAD human rights violations have marred preparations for elections scheduled for December in The Gambia, the West African country ruled by an iron fist.
Ahead of the polls, there has been extensive torture of protesters and opposition figures culminating in the death in custody of opposition leader, Ebrima Solo Sandeng.
Some 30 people, including a United States citizen, have been jailed for staging protests against the government of President Yahya Jammeh demanding answers over the death of Sandeng.
Among those jailed for three years include opposition leader Ousainou Darboe.
These sentences followed trials that raise legitimate questions about the degree to which they were fair and observed due process.
John Kirby, United States Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, expressed his country’s condemnation of the events in the smallest country in mainland Africa.
He called on the Government of The Gambia to immediately release all those 30 sentenced this week, as well as every protester arrested during demonstrations last spring. We call for the government to allow an independent investigation of allegations of torture and abuse.
As elections approached, he called on the government to guarantee the constitutional rights of its people to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
Jammeh (50), a former wrestler, has ruled Gambia since 1994 following a coup on Dawda Jawara.
– CAJ News
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