By African HRC Staff, December 27, 2104.
To illustrate the human rights infractions of The Gambia, one can look to the case of missing journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh, as we mark the eighth anniversary of his disappearance.
The Gambia Press Union, GPU, issued the following statement in August 2014:
"The Gambia Press Union (GPU) is concerned about the disappearance of journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh who went missing in July 2006.
Following the disappearance of Chief Manneh, the Ghana based Media Foundation for West Africa instituted civil action against The Gambia Government at the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Abuja.
The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Abuja, Nigeria, relied on evidence adduced by two plaintiff witnesses to deliver its verdict in the case.
According to one of the witnesses, a former staff reporter of the Daily Observer newspaper, Chief was arrested by State Security agents at his place of work.
The other witness testified that he saw Manneh in a Police Station in Fatoto in the Upper River Region of the country. Given that the verdict of the Court has not been overturned coupled with the fact the evidence of the witnesses remains uncontroverted, then this leaves the Gambia Government with the options of either complying with the judgment of the court or conducting a thorough investigation into the matter.
When the ECOWAS Court delivered judgment in the case, the then Honourable Minister of Justice, Attorney General, Marie Saine-Firdaus, told lawmakers in response to a question posed to her by the former minority leader, Honourable Momodou Sanneh, that Manneh is not in State custody and that the State did not know anything about his whereabouts. This left people asking questions about the whereabouts of the missing journalist.
During a meeting with media chiefs on March 16 2011, the Gambian leader said his "Government has nothing to do with the death of Chief Manneh."
The former Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Mr Edward Anthony Gomez, indicated in an interview with the defunct Daily News newspaper that Manneh is alive, but he refused to disclose the whereabouts of the missing journalist.
The Inspector General of Police, Yankuba Sonko, in an interview with The Standard newspaper indicated that his organization had received information from Interpol that the missing Gambian journalist, Chief Ebrima Manneh, is in the United States of America. The Inspector General of Police however failed to state when exactly his organization received the information from Interpol and the exact date the missing journalist arrived in America.
It is our fervent belief that the evidence of the two witnesses that testified at the ECOWAS Court could serve as a basis for beginning a progressive and conclusive investigation into the matter.
We are asking the Government to solicit support from its allies abroad if on its own if it cannot figure out solutions to this problem. We believe that Chief Ebrima Manneh's family who has been suffering since July 2006 need to know the whereabouts of their loved one."
It seems that President Barack Obama's August visit with The Gambian President in the White House, yielded no further advocacy on the topic.