Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Gambia Government postpones UN experts visit

The United Nations Special Rapporteurs on torture, Juan E. Méndez, and summary, extrajudicial and arbitrary executions, Mr. Christof Heyns, today expressed their deep disappointment with the unilateral decision taken by the Government of The Gambia to postpone their country visit, scheduled to start today and take place until 18 August 2014.

In a news release issued by United Nations Human Right the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that: “We find it extremely worrying that a major undertaking dealing with issues such as unlawful killings and torture can be cancelled without explanation, just as it is about to start.”

The experts said, “The Government’s decision to postpone our visit casts doubt on The Gambia's willingness to engage with the United Nations' special procedures and to respond to the legitimate expectations of the human rights constituency in Gambian civil society.


Author: Binta A Bah, standard.gm
After being detained for over a month, Momodou Sabally was yesterday afternoon arraigned before the high court in Banjul.
State prosecutors have slammed one count of economic crime and two counts of abuse of office charges against the former secretary general and minister for presidential affairs, all relating to a Youth Career Development Programme organised by one Mariama Sillah in May 2014.
Mr Sabally, 40, is accused of causing economic loss to SSHFC in the amount of D402,500 by unduly influencing SSHFC to fund the programme without the recourse to due process. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
However, his request to be released on bail was denied by Justice Abdullahi Mikailu who ordered him to be remanded at the National Intelligence Agency after the prosecution said the investigations into his matter were ongoing.
 “I want an order to leave the accused in the custody of the NIA owing to the fact that the investigation in relation to the accused person is ongoing. We want the court to give an order to this effect,” the director of public prosecution told the court.  
Mr Sabally who was not represented by a lawyer told the court: “I have been detained for five weeks during which I cooperated with the investigators… I have a wife and children.

Monday, August 4, 2014

GAMCOTRAP Engages with the Lived Realities of Rural Women

resume on October 14 for hearing.
Nine hundred women and religious leaders in the Upper River, Central River and Lower River Regions are targeted to increase awareness on the lived realities of rural women within the context of QIWAMAH AND WILAYAH.   The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP), funded by The Tides Foundation, through the New Field Foundation will build the capacity of a critical mass of male and female religious leaders, women leaders and women of reproductive age in the rural areas to foster exchange of experience and mutual support of women’s rights and justice within their communities.  This is within the context of the project entitled "Increasing Awareness and Documentation of Women's Rights Issues on the Life Stories on Qiwamah and Wilayah in Three Districts of Rural Gambia."  The project is specifically targeting 450 religious scholars and 450 women.

In 2012, GAMCOTRAP as a member of MUSAWAH, a global movement to promote Equality and Justice in the Muslim family undertook a research project on the lived realities of thirteen Gambian women within the context of QIWAMAH and WILAYAH (QIWI).  While QIWAMAH and WILAYAH are contextualized as legal responsibilities of men providing protection and upkeep of the family, the data collected from the lived realities of the women revealed different narratives.

The data collected, revealed how women struggled in their daily lives to survive and support their families irrespective of whether the husband is alive or dead, or whether he is around or travelled or whether divorced or inherited. This is irrespective of geographical location, educational background, age or status. The high illiteracy rate among women, the prevalent rate of violence on women, and the strong adherence of deep-rooted culture and traditional practices exacerbate the problem. These coupled with women’s limited knowledge about their rights in their religion all have negative impact on women’s health and livelihood.

This is the main aim of the project sharing experiences and providing evidences of how QIWI concepts actually acts out or manifest for Muslim women in the Gambia.  The voices of the thirteen (13) respondents have been developed into a video documentary and a booklet funded by New Field Foundation.  These will be used as resource materials to raise the awareness of women, religious and Islamic scholars to effect change.  The resource materials will be widely disseminated for people to appreciate what women experience. It will also serve as resource material for feminist analysis within the framework of Islam and Human Rights of women. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dr. Touray Tour of US Colleges and Universities

Dr. Touray
It is with appreciation that Gambian academics, an expert in gender and leading activist in the fight to end FGM and other forms of violence against women, Dr. Isatou Touray has been invited on a tour in the United States giving lectures to hundreds of students at Juniata College and Washington and Jefferson College. The invitation which was made by Professor Buba Misawa and Professor Emil Nagengast was honoured by Dr Touray.  The tour gave her the opportunity to share the work of her organization in the campaign to end FGM.  The partnership has been going and it gives students from the United States and other parts of the world to visit GAMCOTRAP and learn more about cultural practices in the context of sexuality and reproductive health and rights.

Meanwhile Dr. Touray participated at the V-Day Coordinators strategic planning meeting in Italy in preparation for the 2015 global One Billion Rising against Gender Based Violence. The outcome of the meeting is focussing on a ‘Revolution’ all over the world.

IAC Re-born in Style

The Inter Africa Committee on Traditional practice – IAC held its 8th General Assembly in Burkina Faso in April 2014. 

Students from USA and UK visit GAMCOTRAP

Dr Toury

The work of GAMCOTRAP continues to generate attention both within and outside the Gambia. Students alongside their professors from Juniata College and Texas A&M University in the US visited GAMCOTRAP on the 23rd and 26th respectively. The aim of the visits is to know the work of the organization, its challenges and the successes made over the years.  Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP

Dr. Isatou Touray, welcomed the visiting students and their professors and said that the doors of her organization is open to everyone irrespective race or nationality. This invitation resulted to GAMCOTRAP hosting of several interns around the world. She emphasized the need for more collaborative efforts both locally and internationally in the fight against FGM and other harmful traditional practices. The students were briefed on the work of GAMCOTRAP and strategies being used that resulted to tremendous achievement of 4 public declarations during which 128 ex-circumcisers supported by 900 communities have dropped the knife to end FGM.
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The discussions are characterized by a presentation on the effects of FGM followed by questions and answers in a very interactive way. The visitors were overwhelmed with the ongoing advocacy at the grassroots and declared that they too have a role to play because women’s rights are human rights. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

ECOWAS court rules Gambia failed to investigate journalist murder.

Abuja, Nigeria, June 10, 2014-The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes today's ruling by a West African regional court, which found that the Gambian government failed to conduct a meaningful investigation into the murder of journalist Deyda Hydara. The ruling is the first ECOWAS case relating to the murder of a Gambian journalist. 
Hydara, the founder of the independent newspaper The Point , was shot dead by unidentified assailants as he drove home from his office in the capital, Banjul, on December 16, 2004. Hydara, a regular critic of President Yahya Jammeh's harsh policies, had received multiple death threats in the months leading up to his death. His murder remains unsolved

Monday, May 19, 2014

Lawyer Seeks Bail for ex-Finance Minister

Mambury Njie

By Binta A Bah
Lawyer Lamin S Camara has seek for the release of former Minister of Finance and Secretary General, Mambury Njie on bail yesterday at the High Court in Banjul.
The affidavit in support of bail sworned by the accused wife urged the court to use it ‘discretion’ and warrant the accused bail.

“The applicant has been on bail before in connection with these charges by both the Banjul Magistrate Court and the High Court,” Camara submitted.

Njie, Ex- Minister is standing trial on two counts of economic crime and neglect of duty.
He is accused of recklessly causing the Gambia Government loss, by failing to advise government on matters pertaining to mining operations of Carnegie Minerals Gambia Limited between 2001 and 2006 while he was the Secretary General and head of Civil Servant.

Lawyer Lamin Camara
Allegations he strongly denied.

“The applicant won’t interfere with investigation. He has no prior criminal record and most importantly he will not jump bail because his travelling documents are with the NIA” He said.