Gambia: Disappeared journalist should be released on 'Freedom Day'

As Gambia celebrates ‘Freedom Day’ today (22 July), Amnesty International is calling on the Gambian authorities to release journalist Ebrima Manneh.

Ebrima Manneh was arrested in July 2006 by plainclothes police officers. It is believed that he was arrested for attempting to publish a news article that criticised the Gambian government. Since his arrest the government and police officials have denied that he is in custody.  Mr Manneh was paid special recognition at Amnesty International’s 2009 Media Awards in the category of Special Award for Journalism Under Threat.

Journalists have faced threats and harassment if they were suspected of writing stories unfavourable to the authorities or of providing information to media outlets. Others have been arrested for writing articles critical of the government.

Amnesty International’s Campaigner Tom Davies said:

“Ebrima Manneh is a prisoner of conscience and should be immediately and unconditionally released. If the Gambian authorities do not know of his whereabouts, then they should agree to an independent investigation into what has happened to him.”

Owen Tudor from the Trades Union Congress said:

“Trade unionists have been on the front lines in demanding civil and political rights in Gambia. It must respect the fundamental workers rights that they have signed up to through the International Labour Organisation conventions”.

Jim Boumelha, from the National Union of Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists said:

“Freedom Day means nothing without freedom of expression. Brave journalists have spoken out to hold the Gambian government to account for its actions. We are here to show our support for them, and to demand respect for fundamental human rights.

Sarata Jabbi from the Gambia Press Union said:

“Gambians need freedom and in particular the right to freedom of expression. International institutions such as the Commonwealth, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) should hold the Gambian authorities to account for the unfair trials, disappearances and killings of innocent people that take place in Gambia.”

Amnesty International activists in 19 cities and 14 countries – including Burkina Faso, Senegal and the USA – are taking part in demonstrations to mark Gambia’s ‘Freedom Day’. They will be drawing attention to the appalling human rights record of President Yahya Jammeh's government. For more information, visit www.amnesty.org.uk/manneh

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