US State Departmet Laments About Gambia’s Human Rights Crisis

State Department Expresses Concern Over Gov’t’s  move To Block Freedom Newspaper IP Address in The Gambia and the torture of its subscribers!!!

2006 Rights Reports On Gambia Hint About Tales of  Murder, Extra-judicial Killings, torutre,disappearances, gross rights violations and an unceased attacks against the private press.

By Our Diplomatic Correspondent

The tiny impoverished West African country of  the Gambia, under the leadership of “iron hand”  dictator and former military ruler turned civilian Yahya Jammeh, has once again failed human rights, good governance and democracy test. The US State Department in its “2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” in the Gambia cataloged numerous cases of “gross human rights violations” characterized by murder, alleged extra-judicial killings, disappearances, torture of political opponents, arrest and detention without trial. The State Department raises serious concerns over attempts made by the Gambian Government to block the IP address of the US based online paper, the Freedom Newspaper, which is being viewed as critical of the Jammeh administration. The US officials also exposed the torture that was meted out to journalist Malick Mboob who was branded as an informant  to the Freedom Newspaper.”On May 24, The Daily Observer published a letter reportedly from the editor of The Freedom Newspaper, an online newspaper critical of the government, pledging his allegiance to the APRC, along with a list of the paper’s supposed informants. On May 30, the NGO Reporters Without Borders reported that this was false information and the government had attempted to hack into the Website of The Freedom Newspaper, smear the name of its editor, and publicize the names of its subscribers.”said the State Department report on Gambia’s ailing rights situation.According to the US State Department “Also on May 24, the NIA detained Malick Mboob, a former journalist, for allegedly being an informant for The Freedom Newspaper. Mboob was released without charge on October 9.” The State Department adds “Although there were no reports that the government monitored e mail or Internet chatrooms, the government on one occasion restricted access to the Internet. In late May the government reportedly blocked access to The Freedom Newspaper, and the site remained blocked at the end of the year. Individuals and groups could generally engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by electronic mail. Although many citizens were illiterate and most did not have computers or Internet connections at home, Internet cafes were popular in urban areas. Internet access was limited by slow connection speeds and was frequently interrupted by power outages. On November 6, the Gambia Press Union opened an Internet cafe offering free access to journalists.” Below is the full report on Gambia’s rights situation published by the State Department. Please read on…
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Gambia, The

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices  – 2006
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
March 6, 2007
The Gambia is a multiparty, democratic republic with a population of 1.5 million. On September 22, President Alhaji Yahya Jammeh was re elected for a third five year term in an election considered partially free and fair. President Jammeh’s party, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), dominated the National Assembly. While civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces, there were frequent instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently of government authority. On March 21, a coup attempt was uncovered and approximately 50 suspects were detained, 21 of whom remained in detention awaiting or on trial at year’s end.
The foiled coup plot resulted in a more restrictive environment, and the government’s respect for the human rights of its citizens declined during the year. Although the constitution and law provide for protection of most human rights, there were problems in many areas. Arbitrary arrests and detentions increased, particularly after the discovery of the coup plot. Security forces harassed and mistreated detainees, prisoners, opposition members, journalists, and civilians with impunity. Prisoners were held incommunicado, faced prolonged pretrial detention, and were denied due process. The government infringed on privacy rights and restricted freedom of speech and press. Women experienced violence and discrimination, and female genital mutilation (FGM) remained a problem. Child labor and trafficking in persons also were problems.

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Breaking News:State Departmet Laments About Gambia’s Human Rights Crisis-GG bannedFreedom Newspaper-Report reveals!
US State Departmet Laments About Gambia’s Human Rights Crisis 

State Department Expresses Concern Over Gov’t’s  move To Block Freedom Newspaper IP Address in The Gambia and the torture of its subscribers!!!

2006 Rights Reports On Gambia Hint About Tales of  Murder, Extra-judicial Killings, torutre,disappearances, gross rights violations and an unceased attacks against the private press.

By Our Diplomatic Correspondent

The tiny impoverished West African country of  the Gambia, under the leadership of “iron hand”  dictator and former military ruler turned civilian Yahya Jammeh, has once again failed human rights, good governance and democracy test. The US State Department in its “2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” in the Gambia cataloged numerous cases of “gross human rights violations” characterized by murder, alleged extra-judicial killings, disappearances, torture of political opponents, arrest and detention without trial. The State Department raises serious concerns over attempts made by the Gambian Government to block the IP address of the US based online paper, the Freedom Newspaper, which is being viewed as critical of the Jammeh administration. The US officials also exposed the torture that was meted out to journalist Malick Mboob who was branded as an informant  to the Freedom Newspaper.”On May 24, The Daily Observer published a letter reportedly from the editor of The Freedom Newspaper, an online newspaper critical of the government, pledging his allegiance to the APRC, along with a list of the paper’s supposed informants. On May 30, the NGO Reporters Without Borders reported that this was false information and the government had attempted to hack into the Website of The Freedom Newspaper, smear the name of its editor, and publicize the names of its subscribers.”said the State Department report on Gambia’s ailing rights situation.According to the US State Department “Also on May 24, the NIA detained Malick Mboob, a former journalist, for allegedly being an informant for The Freedom Newspaper. Mboob was released without charge on October 9.” The State Department adds “Although there were no reports that the government monitored e mail or Internet chatrooms, the government on one occasion restricted access to the Internet. In late May the government reportedly blocked access to The Freedom Newspaper, and the site remained blocked at the end of the year. Individuals and groups could generally engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by electronic mail. Although many citizens were illiterate and most did not have computers or Internet connections at home, Internet cafes were popular in urban areas. Internet access was limited by slow connection speeds and was frequently interrupted by power outages. On November 6, the Gambia Press Union opened an Internet cafe offering free access to journalists.” Below is the full report on Gambia’s rights situation published by the State Department. Please read on…
…………………………..
Gambia, The

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices  – 2006
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
March 6, 2007
The Gambia is a multiparty, democratic republic with a population of 1.5 million. On September 22, President Alhaji Yahya Jammeh was re elected for a third five year term in an election considered partially free and fair. President Jammeh’s party, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), dominated the National Assembly. While civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces, there were frequent instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently of government authority. On March 21, a coup attempt was uncovered and approximately 50 suspects were detained, 21 of whom remained in detention awaiting or on trial at year’s end.
The foiled coup plot resulted in a more restrictive environment, and the government’s respect for the human rights of its citizens declined during the year. Although the constitution and law provide for protection of most human rights, there were problems in many areas. Arbitrary arrests and detentions increased, particularly after the discovery of the coup plot. Security forces harassed and mistreated detainees, prisoners, opposition members, journalists, and civilians with impunity. Prisoners were held incommunicado, faced prolonged pretrial detention, and were denied due process. The government infringed on privacy rights and restricted freedom of speech and press. Women experienced violence and discrimination, and female genital mutilation (FGM) remained a problem. Child labor and trafficking in persons also were problems.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no confirmed reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. However, in April there were allegations that the government had executed five detainees in connection with the March coup plot after the government announced that they had escaped while being transferred to a minimum security prison. The government denied the reports, but none of the escapees were seen or heard from during the year. Similarly, the government denied allegations of involvement in the July 2005 case of eight men found dead in the coastal town of Brufut, near Banjul. The victims were later identified as migrant workers from Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo who were trying to make their way to Europe. Government authorities announced that an investigation into the deaths was continuing, although nothing was reported by years end.
There were no developments in the case of the 2004 killing of journalist Deyda Hydara (see section 2.a.).
b. Disappearance
There were reports of politically motivated disappearances during the year.
The whereabouts of five men detained in connection with the March coup attempt remained unknown at year’s end; the government claimed that they had escaped custody. (see section 1.a.).
On July 11, police reportedly detained Ebrima Manneh, a journalist for the pro-government Daily Observer, at Sibanor police station; Manneh was not seen again during the year. The government denied that he was being held in custody during the year.
On September 13, Tamba Fofana, a schoolteacher and opposition supporter, reportedly was picked up by soldiers and taken to the police on accusations of “anti-state” activities. He had not been seen again by the end of the year, and the police denied knowledge of his whereabouts. On September 18, security forces allegedly arrested Kanyiba Kanyi, a social worker and supporter of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP). On October 18, the courts ordered his release, but his whereabouts remained unknown at year’s end.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution and law prohibit such practices; however, there were reports that security forces beat and mistreated persons in custody. Following the foiled March coup plot and throughout the year, there were credible reports of torture of detained suspects, including journalists. For example, according to press reports, three military officers detained in connection with the plot, Captain Yaya Darboe, Captain Bunja Darboe, and 2nd Lieutenant Pharing Sanyang, claimed at their court martial hearings that they had been tortured under interrogation to force their televised confessions. The government did not respond to these allegations.
The Indemnity Act continued to prevent victims from seeking redress in torture cases. The army requested that victims file formal complaints so that cases could be investigated; however, there were no known prosecutions in civil courts of soldiers or security officials accused of beating or otherwise mistreating individuals during the year.
There were no developments in the October 2005 case in which the Police Intervention Unit -a paramilitary wing of the police severely beat workers at a hotel construction site for obstructing a police officer and allegedly helping to free a prisoner. Police arrested seven of the workers and released them on bail 24 hours later.
There were unsubstantiated claims by opposition members that the government continued to conduct training for vigilante groups. These groups, also known as “green boys,” were suspected of involvement in past human rights offenses.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison conditions at Mile 2, Janjanbureh, and Jeshwang prisons generally met international standards. The government permitted some visits by independent human rights observers, but they were not allowed to visit detained suspects connected to the foiled coup plot. Local jails were overcrowded, and inmates, including detainees awaiting trial, occasionally slept on the floor. Prison guards were reluctant to intervene in fights between prisoners, which resulted in injuries.
Political prisoners were not held separately from other prisoners.
The government permitted independent monitoring of prison conditions by some local and international human rights groups; however, neither the media nor the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was granted access to detainees or prisoners during the year.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention; however, there were instances of police and security forces arbitrarily arresting and detaining citizens, especially following the failed coup plot.
Role of Police and Security Apparatus
The armed forces are responsible for external defense and report to the secretary of state (minister) for defense, a position held by the president. The police, under the secretary of state for the interior, are responsible for public security. The National Intelligence Agency (NIA), responsible for protecting state security, collecting intelligence, and conducting covert investigations, reports directly to the president. During the year the NIA often assumed police functions such as detaining and questioning criminal suspects. The police generally were corrupt and ineffective. On occasion police acted with impunity and defied court orders.
Many members of the security forces were held without charge in connection to the March coup plot, often beyond the legal 72 hour limit for detention.
In May the police established a human rights and complaints unit tasked with teaching basic human rights knowledge to police and other law enforcement officers and sensitizing them to the need to respect the rights of prisoners and detainees. The unit also receives and addresses complaints of human rights abuses committed by police officers from both civilians and other police officers. During the year the unit received several complaints, and some police officers faced disciplinary actions as a result. The NIA is also authorized to investigate police abuses, although it was not reported that the NIA conducted any such investigations during the year.
Arrest and Detention
The law requires that authorities obtain a warrant before arresting a person; in practice individuals often were arrested without a warrant. Periods of detention generally ranged from a few hours to 72 hours, the legal limit after which detainees must be charged or released; however, there were numerous instances of detentions surpassing the limit, particularly in cases related to the March coup plot. There was a functioning bail system; however, on occasion, the courts released accused offenders on bail, while the police or other law enforcement agencies rearrested offenders upon their leaving the court.
Many detainees, particularly those connected to the failed coup plot, were held incommunicado for extended periods during the year. According to an August report by the International Bar Association (IBA), prisoners frequently were not permitted to meet privately with their attorneys. For example, Tamsir Jasseh, who was arrested without charge on March 23 in connection with the March coup attempt, was not provided access to legal counsel for several months, although he had legal representation at his trial by year’s end. In addition to the specific concerns raised about these instances of incommunicado detention, the IBA report expressed general concern about the country’s judicial environment (see section 1.e.).
The government did not formally revoke military decrees enacted prior to the constitution that give the NIA and the secretary of state for the interior broad power to detain individuals indefinitely without charge “in the interest of national security.” These detention decrees are inconsistent with the constitution, but they have not been subject to judicial challenge. The government claimed that it no longer enforced these decrees; however, there continued to be numerous cases of detentions that exceeded the 72 hour limit beyond which detainees must be charged or released.
Security forces arbitrarily arrested numerous persons for political reasons, and the whereabouts of some of these political detainees, including a journalist and an opposition supporter, were unknown at year’s end (see sections 1.b. and 1.e.). The government also arrested and detained opposition members who publicly criticized or who expressed views in disagreement with the government (see section 2.a.). Security officials arbitrarily detained and abused journalists during the year (see section 2.a.).
Security forces arrested approximately 50 persons in connection with the March 21 coup attempt; 24 were released during the year, five allegedly escaped during a prison transfer, and 21 remained in detention at year’s end. All but one of the suspects were arrested on March 22 on charges of treason and or concealment of treason; an army officer was arrested on April 14 and was not charged by year’s end. Trials of 15 of the 21 detainees, 10 soldiers, and five civilians were ongoing at year’s end (see section 1.e.).
On December 8, former deputy director-general of the NIA, Alieu Singhateh, and former director of external relations of the NIA, Kemo Balajo, were released after prolonged detention on charges of concealment of treason in relation to the March 21 coup plot. The two were denied access to lawyers for several months.
In several instances security forces forcibly entered homes without warrants to arrest citizens. For example, on April 6, Sheriff Mustapha Dibba, the speaker of the National Assembly, and Mariam Denton, a prominent lawyer and UDP supporter who was representing coup suspect Tamsir Jasseh, were arrested without warrant. Dibba was accused of involvement in the coup plot but was released without charge on April 15 after being held for several days beyond the 72-hour limit. Denton was held for 111 days and was denied access to legal counsel for several weeks. In July a court order was issued for her release. The government tried unsuccessfully to subvert the court order by charging her with concealment of treason; but on July 25, the charges were dropped and she was released.
Colonel Ndure Cham, former chief of defense staff who was the alleged mastermind of the March 21 coup plot, remained at large at year’s end. Two of the five accused civilians, Alieu Jobe and Tamsir Jasseh, were charged with aiding and abetting Cham’s escape in addition to charges of concealment of treason. They remained in detention, and their trial was ongoing at year’s end.
Security forces also detained the family members of suspected coup plotters (see section 1.f.).
On August 2, the former chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Ndondi Njie, and two commissioners, Sulayman Sait Mboob and Ebrima Silla Sanneh, were detained on charges of financial malpractice. On August 7, Mboob and Sanneh were released on bail without being formally charged. On September 5, Njie was released without charge. No proof of financial malpractice was produced.
On June 2, the NIA detained Duta Kamaso, a former member of the National Assembly, on “political and economic grounds; Kamaso was released without charge on October 9. No explanation had been given for her arrest by year’s end. Kamaso reportedly had to report to the NIA on a weekly basis during the year.
On November 10, two NIA officers, Nuru Secka and Bamba Manneh, were released on bail after spending several months in detention for failing to arrest a fugitive, former state guard commander major Kalipha Bajinka.
In early February, the government withdrew charges against the three National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD) leaders detained in November 2005 for sedition and unauthorized possession of a diplomatic passport.
Backlogs and inefficiency in the justice system resulted in lengthy pretrial detentions. Approximately 40 of Mile 2 Prison’s 230 inmates were in pretrial detention, and some had been incarcerated for several years while awaiting trial. On December 19, 20, and 21, the NIA freed a total of 26 people held in connection with minor offenses. The length of their detention was not disclosed.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary; however, in practice the courts, especially at the lower levels, were corrupt and subject to executive pressure at times. Nevertheless, the courts demonstrated independence on several occasions, including in the high profile cases of Malick Mboob and Duta Kamaso (see sections 1.d. and 2.a.). However, there were instances of the government and security forces disregarding court orders. For example, on March 30, the government charged Pa Sallah Jeng, the mayor of Banjul, with the same allegations of corruption, abuse of office, and unauthorized spending for which he had been acquitted in December 2005; the trial was ongoing at year’s end.
The judicial system is composed of the Supreme Court, the court of appeal, high courts, and eight magistrate courts. Cadi courts have jurisdiction over Islamic matters of marriage, divorce, land disputes, and inheritance where Muslim parties are involved. District chiefs preside over local tribunals that administer customary law at the district level. Cadi courts and district tribunals do not offer standard legal representation to the parties involved, since lawyers are not trained in Islamic or customary law. Military tribunals cannot try civilians.
An August report by the IBA expressed concern over the judicial environment, citing instances of lack of compliance with court orders, detainees held incommunicado and without access to lawyers, and a climate of fear for the safety and reputation of lawyers and their families when accepting politically related cases. The report also stated that some legal practitioners were reluctant to engage in cases involving human rights or public interest due to fear of harassment.
Trial Procedures
Both civilian trials and courts martial are held in public. No juries are used in the civilian courts, but in the courts- martial the proceedings are presided over by a judge advocate assisted by a panel of senior military officers. The constitution and law provide for a fair and public trial, and the judiciary generally enforced this right, although frequent delays and missing witnesses and lawyers often impeded the process. Many cases were also delayed because of adjournments designed to allow the police or NIA time to continue their investigations.
Indigent defendants charged with murder or manslaughter have a right to an attorney provided at public expense. The prosecution prepares a case file, including testimonies and evidence, and provides a copy for the defense. Defendants are presumed innocent, have the right to confront witnesses and evidence against them, present witnesses on their own behalf, have the right to an attorney, and appeal judgment to a higher court. The law extends the above rights to all citizens, and there were no groups that were denied these rights based on race.
The judicial system suffered from corruption, particularly at the lower levels, and from inefficiency at all levels. Cases continued to be delayed because the court system was overburdened. To alleviate the backlog and reduce the possibility of undue influence and corruption, the government continued to recruit judges and magistrates from other Commonwealth countries that have a similar legal system. The attorney general oversees the hiring of foreign judges on contract. The government reserves the right not to renew a judge’s contract. Foreign judges were generally less susceptible to corruption and executive branch pressure. Despite these steps, corruption in the legal system persisted.
The judicial system recognizes customary, Shari’a (Islamic law), and general law. Customary law covers marriage and divorce for non Muslims, inheritance, land tenure, tribal and clan leadership, and other traditional and social relations. Shari’a was observed primarily in Muslim marriage and divorce matters; it favored men in its provisions (see section 5). General law, following the British model, applied to felonies and misdemeanors in urban areas and to the formal business sector.
On January 20 the Gambia Bar Association (GBA) accused the former chief justice, Stephen Allan Brobbey, of partiality in the assignment of cases, and lawyers boycotted one justice, M.A. Paul, for his alleged mishandling of trials, by refusing to appear before his court. The chief justice rejected the accusations but immediately effected changes in the courts and assigned Justice Paul to the civil division.
The trials of 15 of the 21 suspects detained in connection with the March 21 coup plot were ongoing at year’s end (see section 1.d.). Of the six NIA agents charged with concealment of treason, two, Alieu Singhateh and Kemo Balajo, were released on December 8, while Abdoulie Kujabi, Ngor Secka, Foday Barry, and Baba Saho, had not been tried by year’s end. Retired Colonel Vincent Jatta, also charged with concealment of treason, was also awaiting trial at year’s end. One detainee, Sergeant Buba Mendy, was arrested on April 14 and had not been charged at year’s end. The trial of the five civilians charged with concealment of treason–Tamsir Jasseh, Alieu Jobe, Omar Faal Keita, Demba Dem, and Hamadi Sowe–was ongoing at year’s end; two of the men, Alieu Jobe and Tamsir Jasseh, were also charged with aiding and abetting the escape of Colonel Ndure Cham, the alleged mastermind of the coup who remained at large at year’s end.
The trial of the 10 soldiers was scheduled to resume in October; however, the defendants were brought before a court-martial at Yundum Army Barracks on October 11. No official reason was given for transferring the case to the court martial. Four soldiers, Captain Bunja Darboe, Captain Yaya Darboe, Captain Wassa Camara, and 2nd Lieutenant Pharing Sanyang, were charged with treason; six others, Captain Abdourahman Jah, Captain Pierre Mendy, Lieutenant Momodou Alieu Bah, Corporal Samba Bah, Lance Corporal Babou Janha, and Private Alhaji Nying, were charged with concealment of treason.
All of the detainees faced extended pre-trial detention and were denied access to legal counsel for several months during the year. Two suspects in the coup plot were released after testifying against the defendants as state witnesses; Mustapha Lowe was released on November 20, and Ousman Sey was released on December 29. There were no reports that Lowe and Sey were coerced into testifying against the other suspects; however, their charges were dropped once they agreed to testify as prosecution witnesses.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
During the year there were credible reports that the government held civilians as political detainees based on their political views or associations, and many were held incommunicado for prolonged periods. For example, on April 6, the government detained without charge Mariam Denton, a prominent lawyer and UDP supporter who was representing coup suspect Tamsir Jasseh (see section 1.d.). Until her release on July 25, Denton was denied access to her attorney despite an April 25 high court order granting the attorney unrestricted access to her. On June 2, the NIA detained Duta Kamaso, a former member of the National Assembly, on “political and economic” grounds, and accused her of being an informant for the antigovernment Freedom newspaper; Kamaso was released without charge on October 9 but must report to the NIA on a weekly basis. From August 26 to September 5, the government detained Buba Sanyang, a NADD supporter, on accusations of impersonating a member of the IEC (see section 3). Sanyang read a televised confession statement alleging he was assigned by NADD leader Halifa Sallah to impersonate an IEC officer and collect voter registration cards. He was released later on bail after being held at NIA headquarters for several days beyond the 72-hour limit; no charges were ever brought against him and his case did not go to trial.
During the year the government arrested and detained opposition members who publicly criticized or who expressed views in disagreement with the government (see section 2.a.).
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
The high court has jurisdiction to hear cases for civil and human rights violations, although it may decline to exercise its powers if it is satisfied that adequate means of redress are available under other laws. The Indemnity Act continued to prevent victims from seeking redress in some cases (see section 1.c.). The army continued to encourage victims to file formal complaints so that old cases would be investigated; however, no such cases were filed during the year.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The constitution and law prohibit such actions, but the government did not always respect these prohibitions in practice. Decree 45, which abrogates constitutional safeguards against arbitrary searches and the seizure of property without due process remained in effect; however, in practice the government did not use it. In several instances security forces forcibly entered homes without warrants to arrest citizens (see section 1.d.). For example, on April 6, Sheriff Mustapha Dibba, speaker of the National Assembly, and Mariam Denton, a prominent lawyer representing a coup plot suspect, were arrested without warrants (see section 1.d.).
Several family members of suspected coup plotters were detained. On March 25, Awa Darboe Cham, wife of Colonel Ndure Cham, the suspected mastermind of the coup plot, was arrested and questioned about her husband’s whereabouts. She was held beyond the 72 hour limit and then released on April 4 without charge. During the last week of March the wife of National Assembly Member Omar Camara was detained and held beyond the legal limit; on April 3, she was released without charge along with her husband.
Observers believed the government monitored citizens engaged in activities that it deemed objectionable.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and the press; however, the government limited these rights by intimidation, detention, and restrictive legislation. Although the independent press practiced a degree of self censorship, opposition views regularly appeared in the independent press, and there was frequent criticism of the government.
During the year the government arrested and detained opposition members who publicly criticized or who expressed views in disagreement with the government. On June 27 an elected local official from the UDP, Ousman “Rambo” Jatta, was arrested on charges of “behaving in a manner conducive to a breach of the peace.” On July 10, the case was discontinued and Jatta was granted bail; however, on September 23, security agents rearrested him, reportedly without charge. On October 17, a court ordered his release, but he remained in detention at year’s end.
The NADD leaders detained in November 2005 were released in December 2005 (see section 1.d.).
The government published one newspaper, The Gambia Daily. The Daily Observer, although privately owned, tended to favor the government in its coverage. There were three other independent newspapers, including one published by an opposition political party. There was one independent bi weekly magazine.
During the year one government owned and four private radio stations broadcast throughout the country. During most of the year government owned television and radio gave very limited coverage to opposition activities. Local television stations rebroadcast the BBC, Radio France Internationale, the Voice of America, and other foreign news reports, and all were available via short wave radio. The government owned Gambian Radio and Television Service (GRTS) television, foreign cable, and satellite television channels were available in many parts of the country. The Senegalese owned radio station SUD FM remained closed during the year; in 2005 the government revoked its operating license for allegedly broadcasting derogatory remarks about the government and the Senegalese government.
The government allowed unrestricted access to satellite television, and residents who could afford it received independent news coverage by satellite dish or antenna.
The deterioration of the country’s media environment continued during the year. The government harassed journalists and editors of newspapers that published articles it considered inaccurate or sensitive.
On March 28, police arrested Madi Ceesay, the managing director, and Musa Saidykhan, the editor-in-chief of The Independent newspaper after it published two articles critical of the president. Ceesay and Saidykhan were released without charge on April 20. The Independent remained closed at year’s end.
On April 10 Lamin Fatty, journalist for The Independent, was charged with publishing an article the state considered to be “false and malicious.” Fatty’s trial began on June 12 but was postponed numerous times. His trial was suspended indefinitely at year’s end, meaning the trial will not continue unless assigned to a new magistrate.
On May 24, The Daily Observer published a letter reportedly from the editor of The Freedom Newspaper, an online newspaper critical of the government, pledging his allegiance to the APRC, along with a list of the paper’s supposed informants. On May 30, the NGO Reporters Without Borders reported that this was false information and the government had attempted to hack into the Website of The Freedom Newspaper, smear the name of its editor, and publicize the names of its subscribers.
Also on May 24, the NIA detained Malick Mboob, a former journalist, for allegedly being an informant for The Freedom Newspaper. Mboob was released without charge on October 9.
On August 29, the NIA reportedly detained Amie Sillah, a NADD activist and journalist for the opposition Foroyaa newspaper. No reason for

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