By Mustapha Jallow
Today marks 108 days since Alhagi Ousman Sawaneh, the Imam of Kanifing South Mosque, was picked up and detained without charge or trial at various detention centres ending up at the remote Janjangbureh prison in the Central River Region (CRR).
According to one of his sons, all throughout this period they have been denied access to their father despite repeated unsuccessful attempts.
The son admits that the family is presently under serious strain or stress due to the long incommunicado detention of their father who was the sole pillar and breadwinner of the family.
“It is very traumatising to see your father detained and you are denied access to see him at where he is being held,” lamented the son.
He added that they do know what their father has done for him to be kept away for this long period and denied visits by his family at his place of detention at such a remote and far away prison.
The son said the family is worried about the state of health or physical and psychological condition of their father as they do not know under what condition he is being held in prison.
He said they are appealing to the authorities to secure the release of their loved one to enable him to reunite with them.
Imam Sawaneh was picked up by unidentified men in civilian clothes around 10 am on Sunday, 18 October, 2015, while leading a team of workers to clear the grass in the Kanifing South Cemetery. His whereabouts were not initially known to the family but he was later traced at the NIA headquarters in Banjul. He was later transferred to Janjanbureh Prison in the Central River Region (CRR) on the 27th October, 2015 where he is still held without access to his family.
Imam Sawaneh’s incommunicado detention is beyond the 72 hours limit enshrined in Section 19 of the Second Republic Constitution of The Gambia which states that “Any person who is arrested or detained… who is not released, shall be brought without undue delay before a court
of law and, in any event, within 72 hours.”