Tortured Gambian Journalist To Appear At ECOWAS Court

Musa Saidykhan, former editor-in-chief of banned Banjul-based ‘The Independent’ Newspaper, allegedly tortured by Gambian state agents in 2006, will today, April 27, 2010, appear before the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja , Nigeria.

Musa Saidykhan was on March 28, 2006, arrested and detained by the Gambia Police Intervention Unit and the Criminal Investigations Department of the Gambia Police Force, for publishing the names of alleged coup plotters thereby allegedly implicating the former Gambian Interior Minister – Samba Bah.

During his detention, he was repeatedly tortured until he became unconscious. The continuous torture left scars on his back, legs, arms, and right hand, which was broken in three places. He fled the country to neighbouring Senegal, where he received treatment.

Saidykhan was among several victims who were illegally detained and suffered all manner of cruelty at the hands of the Gambian security agents in the aftermath of an alleged coup attempt in March 2006, a release from Abuja stated.

In order to seek justice for him and relief for many other Gambian journalists, who had suffered a similar fate and have escaped into exile for fear of repression, the Media Foundation for West Africa in 2007, lodged a complaint against the government of Gambia on behalf of Musa Saidykhan before the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, seeking a declaration that his arrest, detention and torture by the Gambian security officials was illegal, unconstitutional and contravenes the provisions of the African charter on Human and peoples’ Rights;  and in addition the sum of US$2,000,000 being compensation for the violation of the Applicant’s right to dignity, personal liberty and fair hearing.

This is the second time that the Media Foundation has lodged a complaint against The Government of Gambia.

In the case of Chief Ebrima Manneh and The Government of Gambia, Suit no. ECW/CCJ/APP/04/07, The Gambian government refused to carry out the Community Court’s order to release Chief Ebrima Manneh, another Gambian journalist who was detained by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in 2006.

The Court repeatedly served the government with writs in that case but it gleefully refused to make an appearance, which compelled the Court to give judgment in default. Till date, Chief Manneh’s whereabouts still remain unknown.

For the past three years, MFWA  has been at the forefront advocating Manneh’s release; giving it global awareness through consistent dissemination of alerts and press statements; holding public fora and networking with other civil society organizations to pressurize the Gambian government to respect the Community Court ruling.Issued by the MFWA, Abuja , Nigeria , April 26th, 2010.


Author: D K Sengbeh

Danicius Kaihenneh Sengbeh (author of Sengbeh's Weblog) is a respected and renowned Liberian journalist, poet and writer with with journalism experience since 2001, of working both as a mainstream journalist and a communication/media consultant in Liberia. He is Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia (elected Dec 2013). He was Assistant Secretary General of the Union Dec 2011 to Dec 2013. He is also Editor-In-Chief of The Informer Newspaper—one of Liberia’s credible dailies. Before joining the Informer, Danicius had served as reporter, chief reporter, sub-editor and News Editor at The Independent Newspaper between 2002 and 2006. Before then, he was reporter at the defunct Patriot Newspaper and Kiss FM 2001-2002. Danicius is a UN Media Fellow and Liberia’s first UN Medal Award-winning journalist for his contribution to journalism and for being the second Liberian journalist in 15 years to qualify for and successfully attended the United Nations’ Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalist Fellowship Program in New York and Geneva, Switzerland in 2012. He earned a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Mass Communication and Sociology from the University of Liberia and a Diploma in Journalism from the International School of Journalism. He holds several awards and recognitions both in and outside of journalism, and carries dozens of certificates in journalism and communication from studies in Ghana, China, United States and Switzerland, among others. He volunteers as Chair of the Information and Communication Committee of his local Bardnersville community. He can be quickly reached via (+231) 886586531/777586531/777464018/

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