US State Departmet Laments About Gambia’s Human Rights Crisis
State Department Expresses Concern Over Gov’t'sÂ move To Block Freedom Newspaper IP Address in The Gambia and the torture of its subscribers!!!
2006 Rights Reports On Gambia Hint About Tales ofÂ 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 ofÂ the Gambia, under the leadership of “iron hand”Â 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 informantÂ 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…
Country Reports on Human Rights PracticesÂ Â - 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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