Following a decision by the Appeal Court this morning to release on bail a further 11 opposition supporters arrested in Banjul for participating in a peaceful gathering in April, Sabrina Mahtani, Amnesty International’s West Africa Researcher said:
“The release on bail of these 11 individuals means that all those arrested in April and May’s peaceful protests are now free and able to return home to their families – which is exactly where they should be as they committed no crime. This is another step forward for justice, and we hope they will all be acquitted in the very near future.”
This is another step forward for justice, and we hope they will all be acquitted in the very near futureSabrina Mahtani, Amnesty International West Africa researcher
“Now we must not forget the others who continue to languish in jail simply for having expressed their opinion. There are still journalists, Imams and other perceived opponents waiting to be released, and we call on the Gambian authorities to free them without delay.”
So far, 42 people arrested during a crackdown on peaceful protests in April and May have been freed on bail this week, following the presidential election on 1 December.
On Monday, 19 opposition members, including UDP leader Ousainou Darboe, were freed on bail pending appeal. They had previously been sentenced to three years of imprisonment for their participation in a peaceful protest on 16 April.
On Tuesday, 12 people were released on bail by the High Court following their arrest and detention for involvement in peaceful protests on 9 May.
The 11 people released today had been arrested for their participation in peaceful protests for electoral reform on 14 April. One man arrested with them, Solo Sandeng, was tortured to death in custody and his body has never been returned to his family. In July the 11 individuals were convicted and sentenced to three years of imprisonment.
President-elect Adama Barrow has promised to free all political prisoners, as well as repeal Gambia’s repressive laws and re-join the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.