April 17, 2016
The President of The Republic of The Gambia
Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh
Open Letter to the President: Free Gambia’s Political Prisoners
I write to demand that, in the spirit of respect for human dignity you ensure the release of political prisoners held since Thursday 14 April 2016 until now. You have sworn to defend the constitution and sovereignty of the Gambia and therefore you bear legal and moral responsibility to ensure that at all times, the supremacy of the constitution remains sacrosanct. The individuals arrested and detained among whom some have lost their lives already are Gambian citizens who enjoy the same rights and freedoms like every other citizen as spelt out in our constitution.
In view of the seriousness of the matter, I would suggest you make enquiries under the conditions under which they are tortured and kept in prison contrary to the standards expected today by all civilized nations. In view of the information available to us concerning the arrest and detention of the peaceful protesters on Thursday, one of them Ibrahim Solo Sandeng was killed and buried like a dog at Tanji while Fatoumatta Jawara and Fatou Camara are said to be in critical conditions. All of these protesters are severely tortured.
Mr. President, not only has the peaceful protesters being criminalized but their basic rights were seriously violated. It is important that you, as the president of our country to publicly condemn the security forces (especially the paramilitary and the army) for the disproportionate use of force they employed against peaceful protesters. We must bear in mind that already our constitution gave citizens the right to demonstrate in Section 25 (1),
Every person shall have the right to freedom to assemble and demonstrate peaceably and without arms.
Mr. President, democracy is the existence of free media and mass movements who would able to expose sores and decays within society and governance. However, countless Gambians continue to face harassment in all forms including arbitrary arrest, detention and torture as they seek to express their opinions and demonstrate. This is unacceptable because the continued abuse of rights and disregard for the rule of law is a direct affront to the peace and harmony our society is known. The actions by the security forces and the general attitude of your government to disregard the rule of law are a threat to national security. A truly democratic country puts the needs of the people above the egos of politicians.
Mr. President, democracy and good governance entail the adherence to the rule of law, upholding of the standards of transparency and accountability, and protection of fundamental rights such as freedom of association, assembly, opinion and expression. Please do not betray our aspirations and inspirations as a people. I therefore request the immediate release of our people. As a democratically elected president, it is your responsibility to see that justice is served for all citizens and I ask that you do that duty in this situation. “Let justice guide our actions…”
In the service of our country, I remain