Detention without Trial continues Unabated

By Mustapha Jallow

 The unlawful detention without court appearance still continues in the new democratic dispensation Gambians find themselves in. The trauma and agony of these violations with impunity, remain a great concern to the detained and their loved ones.

10 members of Gambia Armed Forces who were arrested in different military camps of the country are held without trial.

Also 11 soldiers were recently rounded-up after being accused of being part of a ‘WhatsApp’ group. One of them LCpl Samboujang Bojang, who was at one stage admitted at a military clinic, was arrested for allegedly helping one Staff Sergeant who was also detained, to escape and flee the country. On Monday 31 July 2017, LCpl Bojang was taken to state Intelligence headquarters in Banjul for interrogation, where he later sustained bruises.

On LCpl Bojang’s situation, the authorities promised to investigate into the matter. Below is a narration of the stories of those detained beyond the 72 hour limit.

IN DETENTION FOR MORE THAN 41 DAYS: A member of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) Lance Corporal Sambujang Bojang, was arrested by military police on 12 July, 2017. He was detained at Fajara Barracks until on Monday, 31 July when a senior soldier came and picked him up and took him to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), where he was allegedly tortured.

According to his desperate wife, Mrs. Sunkaru Jarju, her husband is still in detention without being taken to court. However, she said the authorities have allowed her to visit and take food to her loved one.

She urged the authorities to free him or take him to court if he is found wanting.

‘‘As we approach the Tobaski, we want government to release him because we want to spend the Tobaski together,’’ she said.

It could be recalled that LCpl Bojang, who was hospitalized after allegedly sustaining injuries at Intelligence headquarters, was discharged from the clinic and returned to his detention cell at the Guards Battalion in Fajara Barracks on Friday, 11 August 2017, at around 3pm. He had spent over 11 days at the military clinic for the treatment of injuries on his hands and feet.

The NIA boss has promised to invite the press in due course, on the alleged torture of Lance Corporal Bojang while under interrogation but since then the press has been waiting.

IN DETENTION FOR MORE THAN 9 DAYS: Staff Sergeant Malick Bojang, is also detained for more than 72 hours since his arrest by the military police. It was reported that Ssgt. Bojang was picked up at the home village of former President Jammeh in Kanilai Kanilai on Monday 14 August 2017 and was escorted to defence headquarters in Banjul and later to the Yundum military camp, amidst ‘Whatsapp’ allegations.

‘‘After his arrest he was escorted to defence headquarters in Banjul, where he was briefly held before being transported to Yundum Barracks,’’ a source disclosed. The source said family members are calling for the immediate release of their loved one, whom they described as the main support of his family. The native of Foni Bondali was a former second-in-command at the Fajara Barracks ammunition section but was later transferred to Kanilai in 2017. The source also revealed that during the former regime, Ssgt. Bojang was sent to Turkey for military training.

IN DETENTION FOR MORE THAN 22 DAYS: A serving member of the Gambia Armed Forces, Corporal Lamin Gibba, was also arrested at Farafenni Military Camp and escorted to Yundum Barracks for detention since early July 2017. According to family members of the detained soldier, they’ve been allowed visits or even to be taking food to him. Corporal Gibba, a native of Bajagarr village in Foni Kansala district is said to be still detained without any court appearance. His arrest also comes in the aftermath of  the ‘WhatsApp’ allegations.  Sources however revealed that Corporal Gibba was attached to the military signal unit in Farafenni camp but eventually got arrested and taken to Yundum. Since then no charges have been preferred against him.

IN DETENTION FOR MORE THAN 46 DAYS:  Lieutenant Yaya Jammeh, a former Adjutant of the Gambia National Guard (GNG) and Beray Jammeh an ex- Aide de Camp (ADC) and brother to former President Jammeh, are still in detention without charge. Military and family sources informed this paper that they are yet to be released or taken to a court of law. Sources said that access was given to family members but the reason they are still held up to date, is not known to them.  The natives of Kanilai were picked on 15 July 2017, amidst the ‘WhatsApp’ allegations and taken to the Guards Battalion in Fajara Barracks, where they spent days before being transferred to another detention centre within the country. A journey of detention without trial begun for the Jammeh brothers since Lt. Jammeh was led into a waiting military police vehicle that escorted him to Yundum Barracks to continue his detention, whilst Captain Beray Jammeh, a bodyguard and brother to former long-time-ruler, was also taken to the Navy headquarters in Banjul, where he is currently detained.

IN DETENTION FOR MORE THAN 46 DAYS: 4 serving members of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) were also arrested on 13 July 2017  allegedly accused of being part of the ‘WhatsApp’ allegations, are also said to be in detention for more than 72 hours. Lieutenant Abdoulie Jarju, Staff Sergeant Baboucarr alias ‘nyakareh’ Sanneh and  Corporal Lamin Nyassi are detained at the Guards Battalion in Fajara Barracks whilst Mbemba Camara was moved to Yundum Barracks, where he is continuing his detention.

However, sources disclose that some of the detainees were allowed access to family members while others have not been denied access to their relatives.

IN DETENTION FOR MORE THAN 21 DAYS:  Lance Corporal Abba Badjie and Lance Corporal Deeno Sanneh, who were picked up in connection with the ‘WhatsApp’ allegations, are still in detention at Fajara Barracks without any due process of the law.

According to sources close to the detainees, relatives were allowed visits that lasted for 5 minutes; but that their main concern is why they are still held up to this date.

It was reported that the two were arrested on the same day and taken to Fajara Barracks since the beginning of July 2017. Sources indicate that the two soldiers are part of the escort team of the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS Masanneh Kinteh.

“The two Lance Corporals were picked up weeks after their convoy and pistol training at the Gambia Armed Forces Training School and they are still held by Military Police at Fajara Barracks,” a source said.

IN DETENTION FOR MORE THAN 4 MONTHS:  A native of Kartong, Pa Sanneh Warrant Officer Class 1 (WOC1) of the Gambia National Army, was arrested and detained at Yundum Barracks since March 2017, but he was later moved to the Guards Battalion in Fajara Barracks to continue his detention. Military sources informed this medium that WOC1 is still under detention and the military police had opened doors for family members to have access to him. It could be recalled that Sanneh was arrested and accused of taking part in the murder of Lance Corporal Tumani Jallow, during the former regime.

IN DETENTION FOR MORE THAN 4 MONTHS:  Warrant Officer Class 1 (WOC1), Alieu Jeng and Warrant Officer Class 2 (WOC2) Abdoulie Jallow, alias ‘Jallino’, both serving members of the Gambia Armed Forces, are also held up to date. The two warrant officers were picked up and detained at the Guards Battalion in Fajara Barracks for months before being transferred recently in 2017 to the Yundum Barracks, where they continue their detention.

Reports indicate that WOC1 Jeng was residing in Hamza Barracks with his family and was at one time attached to the former vice President, Isatou Njie-Saidy.  ‘‘Jeng and Jallow were part of the Darfur contingent but were suddenly dropped and arrested a week before the contingent left for Sudan,’’ sources reveal.

Despite their family members having access to them, their detention has clocked the 72 hours deadline as indicated in section 19 of the constitution and it reads:  ‘a detainee should be informed of the reason(s) of his/her arrest and given access to a lawyer within three hours of his / her arrest; and if such detainee is not released within 72 hours, he/she should be brought before a court of law.’

IN DETENTION FOR MORE THAN 179 DAYS: Lieutenant Malick Jatta, a commissioned officer within GAF was also arrested, detained and accused of taking part in the assassination of former veteran Journalist and others, which according to investigators Jatta had confessed to, on the orders of former President Jammeh.

Since his arrest in February 2017, the officer is still in detention without any court appearance even though family members have access to him. He was detained at Yundum Barracks for 4 months until recently in July 2017. He is among those soldiers who were moved to Fajara Barracks, where he is presently held.

IN DETENTION FOR MORE THAN 5 MONTHS:  Staff Sergeant Amadou Badjie and Staff Sergeant Omar aka ‘Oya’ Jallow were arrested since February 2017 and accused of murder. The two officers are still under detention without charges and they were first detained at the Yundum Barracks until their transfer to Fajara Barracks in July 2017.

In March 2017, the two officers are said to have told police investigators that they have participated in the summary execution and burial of Lance Corporal Tumani Jallow and one businessman, Abdoulie aka Abdou Gaye.

According to one of the suspects, upon arrival at the said Santanba forest in the west of Bwiam, Ssgt. Badjie was questioned by investigators; that whilst he was at his home in Foni, he received a phone from one Major Nuha Badjie at night, who asked him to report immediately but he quickly responded to him (Nuha) that he did not have a vehicle. He said he later used a commercial vehicle and when he got to him, he was given two bodies to bury.

Ssgt. ‘Oya’ Jallow was brought up to where he was being escorted into the forest of Santanba to identify the secret graves

IN DETENTION FOR MORE THAN 166 DAYS:  Warrant Officer Class 1 (WOC1) Mr. Ismaila Jammeh was also arrested and detained at the Yundum Barracks since Friday, 17 March 2017. Investigators accused him of participating in the summary execution of Lt. Ebou Lowe and others but family members of the detainee denied all allegations against him.

Mrs. Fatou Sanyang, the wife of the detained officer has desperately decried the unlawful detention of her husband. She said up to date the situation remains the same and they do not know why the authorities are still holding him.

‘‘Every woman wants to share the muslim fast prayers ‘Tobaski’ with her husband including her family members. But this time around we are alone. We want the authorities to release him because he is a family man whose children are concerned about their father and they keep enquiring when he will return home,’’ she said.

It was reported that Jammeh’s arrest came after he closed from work at Yundum Barracks around 1pm; that upon arrival at home in Kotu, he received a phone call from Captain Alagie Njie, the Military Police commander at Yundum, that he should return to Barracks. The wife said his husband complied and returned without delay.

‘‘On arrival he was told that he was under arrest and since then he has been held at the barracks up to date. I was in a state of trauma when I received the information that my husband was arrested. He left 7 children at home and it has not been easy for me as their mother. So, I’m therefore calling on the authorities, to release our breadwinner, as we are in the holy month of tobaski,’’ she said.

However, Mrs. Jammeh said military authorities have allowed them to be visiting and communicating with him by phone at his place of detention.

IN DETENTION FOR MORE THAN 4 MONTHS: Two members of the Gambia Armed Forces, Staff Sergeant Lamin Badjie and Lamin Sambou were also arrested and are still held since March 2017. However, the two are allowed family access at their place of detention.

Sources close to the two, earlier said SSgt. Badjie was also part of the Darfur contingent but was later dropped and arrested and currently detained at the Guards Battalion in Fajara Barracks. For SSgt. Sambou, sources say he was moved to Yundum Barracks following his arrest.

The two are also accused of committing murder during the Jammeh era but are yet to appear in court.