Banjul Magistrate has found two prominent women’s rights defenders not guilty of stealing €30, 000.00 as alleged by the state.
Dr. Isatou Touray, Executive Director and Amie Bojang Sissoho, Programme coordinator, of The Gambia committee for Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRAP) have been on trial for almost two years.
They were accused of stealing €30, 000.00 provided by YALOCAMBA SOLIDARIDAD, a Spain-based NGO. They denied any wrong doing.
They were arrested and detained in 2010, arraigned on the next day but the presiding magistrate Emmanuel Nkea refused them bail and remanded them in custody at the Female Wing of Mile Two Prisons for eight days.
They are the first women’s rights activist to be trial in the history of the Gambia.
Women’s rights activists after the verdict, said "justice has been done"
Reading out the verdict, magistrate Taiwo Ade Alagbe said Dr Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho had not been found guilty in connection with the allegation because the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
Taiwo Ade Alagbe said the court was satisfied that Dr Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho did not used the said money for their personal income.
He added that the director of YALOCAMBA SOLIDARIDAD as a key witness acted ‘very’ unprofessional when she sent 1000 Euros after the breach of contract after the first phase of the project.
The atmosphere which greeted their acquittal and discharge was filled with delight. The crowed of relatives and sympathisers breathed a sigh of relief when the verdict was read out while others brandishing placards reading: ‘praise to Allah’ as tears rolled.
On the trial
Eight state witnesses, including ex-circumcisers, police officer and the director of YALOCAMBA SOLIDARIDAD testified while the accused persons called four witnesses.
The two have over the years been very active and effective in the promotion of women and children’s rights particularly as they relate to female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and other discriminatory practices.
GAMCOTRAP is one of the lead organizations working in the area of women and girls empowerment , FGM and other harmful practices that affect the lives and circumstances of women and girls in the Gambia. GAMCOTRAP’s years of struggle and countess efforts have contributed significantly to be development of women and girls in the Gambia and elsewhere and has led to over 100( one hundred ) circumcisers dropping their knives publicly and abandoning the practice.
Author: Binta A Bah