Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tortured Journalist to appear at ECOWAS Court

Press Release: Tortured Journalist to appear at ECOWAS Court

April 26, 2010

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

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$2,000,000.00 (Two Million United States Dollars) 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.

For further information, please contact:

Ugonna Ikechukwu Duru

Programme Officer: Media Law Reform & Legal Defence

Media Foundation For West Africa (MFWA)

30 Duade Street, Kokomlemle
Accra , Ghana

Tel : 233-21-242470
Fax : 233-21-221084
Email : ugonnaduru@mediafound.org or emerem_j@yahoo.com or mfwa@africaonline.com.gh

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