Gambia continued to restrict freedom of expression. Government opponents, human rights defenders and journalists were arbitrarily arrested and detained. Torture and other ill-treatment were carried out by security forces and there were unresolved cases of enforced disappearance.
Presidential elections took place on 24 November. The incumbent, President Jammeh, was declared winner, continuing his 17-year rule. Political parties were given 11 days to campaign.Top of page
The National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the police and the army unlawfully arrested and detained people. Detainees were rarely informed of their rights or the reason for their arrest or detention and were often held for more than 72 hours without charge, in violation of the Constitution. Torture continued to be used routinely to extract confessions and as punishment.
Human rights defenders, including lawyers and journalists, were unlawfully arrested and detained.
Journalists and other media workers were routinely subjected to harassment, arrests and threats of closure, making it extremely difficult for them to carry out their work.
In October, Justice Minister Edward Gomez stated during an interview with the Daily News newspaper that disappeared journalist Ebrima Manneh was still alive “somewhere”. A journalist with the government-owned newspaper Daily Observer, Ebrima Manneh was arrested by members of the NIA at the newspaper’s offices on 11 July 2006. He was last seen in hospital under police custody in July 2007. The government had yet to comply with a July 2008 ECOWAS court judgement, ordering it to immediately release Ebrima Manneh from unlawful detention and pay US$100,000 in damages to his family. The government continued to deny any involvement in his arrest and disappearance.Top of page
Thirteen death sentences were passed in 2011, bringing the number of people on death row to 44.
In April, the government passed the Drugs Control (amendment) Act 2011, which replaced the death penalty with life imprisonment for possession of more than 250g of cocaine or heroin. The death penalty had been in place since October 2010 for this offence, but was repealed to bring sentencing in line with the 1997 Constitution. Amendments removing the death penalty were also reportedly made to the Criminal Code Act and the Trafficking in Persons Act 2007 to make them compatible with the 1997 Constitution.
Also in April, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal of seven of the eight people sentenced to death in June 2010 following a grossly unfair trial for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government.Top of page
Conditions in Gambia’s prisons were appalling. The harsh conditions of detention in Mile 2 Central Prison – overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions and inadequate food – constituted cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.Top of page