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Coalition pour les Droits Humains en Gambie


Communiqué de Presse
13 octobre 2010

Two Prominent Gender and Human Rights


Defenders detained in The Gambia.
Two prominent Gender and Human Rights defenders, Dr. Isatou Touray
and Amie Bojang Sissoho were arrested and detained on Monday October
11th, 2010 by Gambian security forces, kept in police custody at the Banjul
Police station, and sent to jail on Tuesday 12 October 2010.

Dr. Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho were called on Monday 11th
October by an NIA officer to report to the Public Relations Officer of the
National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA). Upon reporting to the NDEA
office, they were directed to the Police Headquarters and eventually
detained without charges. Within hours, they proceeded to the Banjul
Magistrate Court, where a ruling was made for them to be detained until
Tuesday the 12th October, 2010. On Tuesday the 12th, the two women went
back to the magistrate court for hearing on a bail application by the
Defence Counsel. They were denied bail by the presiding magistrate and
sent to the female wing of the Central Prison in Mile2 for 8 (eight) days
while investigation will be ongoing.

Dr. Isatou Touray, Executive Director and Amie Bojang Sissoho,


Programme Coordinator, of the Gambia Committee for Traditional
Practices (GAMCOTRAP) have over the years been very active and
effective in the promotion of gender, women and children’s rights
particularly as they relate to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and other
discriminatory practices.

GAMCOTRAP is one of the lead organisations working in the area of


women and girls empowerment, FGM and other harmful practices that
affect the lives and circumstances of women and girls in The Gambia.
GAMCOTRAP’s years of struggle and countless efforts have contributed
significantly to the development of women and girls in The Gambia and
elsewhere and has led to over 100(one hundred) circumcisers dropping
their knives publicly and abandoning the practice.

The two ladies were detained since Monday 11th October, 2010 and
allegedly charged with theft of 30 thousand Euros. They spent Monday
night in police custody, and their application for bail that was due to be

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decided on Tuesday the 12th has been refused and the two women’s
rights defenders have been remanded for 8(eight) days.

In his ruling, the presiding magistrate, Mr Emmanuel Nkea noted that he


was in a tight corner and found it difficult to decide because both
prosecution and defence have failed to elaborate on the issue of whether
the defendants will use their influence to interfere with the investigation of
the police which the police say is incomplete. In the end he refused them
bail and remanded them in custody at the Female Wing of Mile Two
Prisons for 8(eight) days after which they will proceed to court for hearing.
The Prosecutor had asked for fourteen days to enable them complete their
investigation.

However sources close to the office of the President have disclosed that
the detention of the two ladies is an executive order.

It could be recalled that in May 2010 the office of the President set up a
panel consisting of 7 (seven) NIA and Police Officers to investigate
GAMCOTRAP on the management of a Spanish donor fund from
YOLOCAMBA SOLIDARIDAD. After a careful review of the issues through
statements obtained and relevant materials, the panel concluded that the
allegation was unfounded. However, upon submission of its findings, the
Panel was dissolved and some of the members dismissed from the service
of The Gambian Government. A second Panel was set up and while
GAMCOTRAP was awaiting the outcome of the second investigation, the
two women were remanded

This is not the first time that GAMCOTRAP has been targeted by President
Yaya Jammeh ‘s government . In 1999 the security of members of
GAMCOTRAP was threatened when the president publicly said that he
could not guarantee the safety of activists who are campaigning against
FGM. This was followed by a policy directive from the then Director of
Broadcasting of the Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS)
forbidding the staff from broadcasting on Gambia Radio and Television
(state owned) messages that oppose FGM, or mention the medical
hazards. Instead, only messages in support of the practice should be aired
on the state owned media.

GAMCOTRAP reacted by sending an open letter to the President, the first


to be done by a civil society organisation in The Gambia.

It could be recalled that President Jammeh has systematically launched


direct attacks on vocal human rights campaigners and activists. Last year
he threatened human rights defenders with arrests. In September this
year, human rights defender and Director of “Africa in Democracy and
Good Governance”, Edwin Nebolisa, was given six-month-imprisonment
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with hard larbour an additional ten thousand Gambian Dalasi
(approximately US $ 330) fine by the Banjul Magistrate Court having
declared him “guilty of giving false information” to President Yahya
Jammeh’s office. Nebolisa was arrested in March 2010 following a letter he
allegedly wrote to President’s office announcing the nomination of
President Jammeh’s daughter as a goodwill ambassador of Africa in
Democracy and Good Governance. The magistrate also ordered for the
indefinite suspension of Mr. Nebolisa’s right-based organisation.

Recently, the government started the process of amending the NGO affairs
Act in order to effect greater control and restrictions on the NGOs.

The Coalition for Human Rights in The Gambia is calling on President Yaya
Jammeh and his government to respect the constitutional rights of Dr.
Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho and to allow justice to prevail.

For more information, contact +221 33 867 95 87

ORGANISATIONS:-

- Inter African Network for Women, Media, Gender and


Development – (FAMEDEV)
- International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
- Syndicat des Professionnels de l’Information et de la
Communication du Sénégal (SYNPICS)
- Rencontre Africaine pour le Défense Des Droits de l’Homme
(RADDHO),
- Amnesty International, Section Senegal
- Radio Alternative Voice for Gambians-Radio AVG
- Article 19
- Organisation Nationale des Droits de l’Homme (ONDH)
- Réseau Presse et Parlement du Sénégal (REPPAS)
- West African Journalists Association (WAJA).