Thursday, July 23, 2015

UN rights experts hail Zambia’s move away from death penalty, but warn of “areas of concern” in Africa

Two United Nations human rights experts welcomed a recent decision by the President of Zambia, Edgar Lungui, to commute the death sentences of 332 individuals to life imprisonment. The UN Special Rapporteurs on summary executions, Christof Heyns, and on torture, Juan E. Méndez, also encouraged the Zambian authorities “to take a step further by removing all reference to the death penalty in the country’s laws.”   

President Lungui commuted the sentences after his visit to Mukobeko Maximum Security Prison, which despite a capacity of 51 inmates, houses hundreds. 
“By commuting these death sentences, the Zambia puts a stop to mental and physical pain and suffering, and takes an important step towards ensuring respect for the inherent dignity of the human person,” Mr. Mendez said. 

“This decision is in line with the trend in Africa – as in the rest of the world – to move away from the death penalty. As the Secretary General of the UN has said, there is no room for this form of punishment in the 21st Century,” Mr Heyns said. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Release of journalist Alagie Sissay confirmed

Mr Sisay

Gambia Press Union confirmed yesterday that the managing director of Teranga FM radio station, Mr Alagie Sisay has been released after twelve days in the custody of the state.
"He was dumped in the streets of Yundum, near the Airport, at 11pm, where his family picked him after he telephoned to inform them of his release, says Saikou Jammeh secretary general of the union.
"Although Mr Sisay has given no further details regarding his ordeal, his family confirmed that no criminal charge was leveled against him. It has also been confirmed that he was not in good health conditions and had to undergo check-up at a medical facility. "
On 2 July, Sisay, manager of the community radio station Taranga, was at his compound close to the radio station, when he was informed by a friend that two men in plain clothes were looking for him at the station near his house. When Ceesay went to talk to them, his friend also tried to follow the exchange but was told by two men to go away.
"The prolonged detention of Mr Sisay is an infringement on his constitutional right not to be detained beyond 72 hours. His apparent mistreatment is deeply regrettable," Jammeh added.
He said the GPU is committed to the protection and promotion of press freedom and freedom of expression.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Article 19 calls for the release of Taranga FM manager

Fatou Jagne Senghor

ARTICLE 19, a London-based human rights organization has call on the Gambian government to release Mr Alagie Ceesay, the manager of Taranga FM, a community radio based in Sinchu Alhagie, Kombo North District.

In a press statement issued yesterday, the regional director of ARTICLE 19 West Africa, Fatou Jagne Senghor said:  “We are disturbed by the disappearance of Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay, who has now been missing for ten days without any contact with his family or colleagues.”
According to Ms Senghor Mr Ceesay was picked up on 2 July by plain clothes officers at his residence in Sinchu. She calls on Gambian Authorities to provide information on the whereabouts of Ceesay, and to release him.
“David Kujabi, the Public Relations Officer of Banjul Police Station told ARTICLE 19 that Ceesay is not in police custody and if he was there, they would have allowed family to visit him. Subsequently, the NIA was contacted by ARTICLE 19, but did not provide any response.
From other local sources close to the family, and relatives who spoke to ARTICLE 19, Ceesay is believed to be in NIA custody; there are fears for his safety.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Gambia’s record on women’s rights to face scrutiny by UN committee

GENEVA – The Gambia’s record on women’s rights will be examined by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on Thursday 9 July in meetings that will be webcast live.

The Gambia is one of the 189 States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and so is required to submit regular reports to the Committee of 23 independent experts on how it is implementing the Convention.

The Committee will engage in a dialogue with a delegation from the Gambian Government of on questions relating to the promotion and protection of women’s rights in the country, and will also hear from NGO representatives. The session will take place in Conference Room XVI at Palais des Nations in Geneva from 10:00 - 17:00 (08:00 – 15:00 in The Gambia).  The live webcast can be viewed at 

Among the possible issues to be discussed are: Women’s access to justice; measures to tackle female genital mutilation and other forms of violence against women; measures to promote women’s participation in political and public life; decriminalization of abortion; support for women living with HIV/AIDS; situation of rural women; incompatibility of customary and personal laws with the Convention, particularly in regard to marriage, divorce and inheritance; measures to combat child and forced marriage