Rights group: Gambia must end brutal crackdown
03 June 2016, 16:57
Dakar – Gambian activists and politicians have called on West
Africa's economic body to take actions against Gambia for its brutal crackdown
on rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in the run-up to
elections later in the year.
The calls come as Amnesty International released a report on Thursday
that says amid opposition protests, peaceful demonstrators and bystanders were
beaten and arrested in April and May. The group says 51 people, including the
leader and executive members of the opposition United Democratic Party, await
trial and at least 36 others have been detained without charge.
Opposition party secretary Solo Sandeng died in custody after
torture, the group said, demanding accountability for President Yahya Jammeh,
who has been in power since 1994.
"Gambia is already in bad state. I would recommend that
targeted sanctions to be applied against President Jammeh and his close
associates," women rights activist Fatoumata Tambajang said.
Tambajang called on countries like Senegal and Nigeria to put
maximum pressure on Jammeh to step down.
Gambians are forced to face a choice between speaking out or
remaining safe, Amnesty said. New laws that further restricted the right to
freedom of expression have been introduced since November 2011 elections, and
journalists have fled Gambia because of persecution.
Civil society activists have said they can't trust anyone.
Gambia, a part of the Economic Community Of West African States,
must observe and comply with its protocol on democracy and good governance,
Amnesty said, calling for its suspension from the body if no progress on human
rights is made.
Top leaders from the organisation have met with Senegal President
Macky Sall, the chairperson of ECOWAS, to ensure strong actions before the body
meets for a summit beginning June 4.