Abdoulie G. Dibba

Today, 11 August, 2016, marks 109 days of the detention of Haruna Gassama, the President of the Rice Farmers’ Cooperative Ltd., Haronaat the Janjanbureh Central Prison beyond the 72 hours constitutional requirement and without access to family members.

Mr Gassama, who was released on Thursday, 3 September, 2015 after having been held for 185 days incommunicado at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters in Banjul, has been re-arrested on Saturday, 23 April 2016, after returning from his rice field.

As reported earlier, the president of the rice farmers’ cooperative was re-arrested by plain clothes officers at around 1pm at his home in Dasilami and taken to the Brikamaba police station and later to Janjanbureh prison where he is being detained for 109 days as of today.

The family source stated that they do not know why Mr. Gassama was arrested. They also revealed that his motor bike was taken by the security agents.

Mr. Gassama was elected unopposed as president at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the rice farmers’ cooperative held at the Brikamaba School ground on 5 January 2012. He was arrested on the 2 March 2015, the very day when officials from the Sheriff Division of the high court came to Lower Fulladu District to execute the order of a judgment delivered on the 12 January 2015 which is in favour of the plaintiff (Mr. Gassama and his newly elected committee).

This long and continued detention of the president of the rice farmers’ cooperative without charge or court appearance is in violation of Section 19 Subsection (3)(b) of the constitution of the second republic which states that “Any person who is arrested or detained… who is not released, shall be brought without undue delay before a court and, in any event, within seventy-two hours”.