Letter: Re: Open letter to AG & Minister of Justice, DG SIS

Friday, August 02, 2019

First and foremost, I would like to extend my heartfelt greetings to both of you and further congratulate you on your appointment to new positions. I wish you success in the execution of your duties.

Sirs, you may be aware that as a Gambian journalist and an international correspondent, I am a victim of human rights violations by the defunct National Intelligence Agency (NIA). I have been subjected to arbitrary arrests, incarceration incommunicado and brutal torture. To put in bluntly, I have suffered miserably at the hands of the infamous, notorious NIA.

Despite the hostile environment and the fact that my case was internationally highlighted and reported, I was never shy or afraid to reveal all the names of those who tormented and persecuted me. A series of unlawful arrests and detention were carried out against me by the NIA. The most despicable and outrageous one was on 21 November 2001 when I was picked up from home, held incommunicado for several days, beaten up brutally and electrocuted. If I could recall, it was only in my case that the NIA acknowledged via its own State Counsel that I was abused and brutalized for merely doing my work. Yet, the perpetrators are still unpunished. 

One may argue that during that period, the rule of law was not adhered to, and the NIA was operating with impunity. But we are in a new dispensation today, and the trust and confidence Gambians and non-Gambians alike have in you are overwhelming. Also, I am fully aware of the important and significant strides taken by His Excellency President Adama Barrow to see to it that peace, justice and reconciliation prevail. The formation of the TRRC with its highly respected officials is a step in the right direction. This is why the Commission is supported by all right-thinking Gambians. Already, I forwarded the issue to the Commission via the Gambia Press Union (GPU).

In this regard, I have written several news articles conducted interviews from the European Union perspective, highlighting the determination and efforts of the government and the TRRC. 

Nevertheless, unless the matter is resolved, I will continue to express deep concern that all the Agents and Officers who physically tortured and humiliated me, namely Demba Ceesay, Wassa Gassama and Babou Njie are still operating freely as if nothing ever happened. Moreover, the senior officials Sukuta Jammeh, Tijan Bah, Captain Bojang, Salimina Drammeh, Captain Saine and Bamba Manneh who persecuted me have not been prosecuted yet. 

Therefore, as the custodian and defender of the Gambian Constitution and the head of one of the most respected security services, I would like to remind both of you that what happened to me is not only a contravention of the Gambian constitution but also a violation of Article 7 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) which states clearly: ‘‘All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law’’. Additionally, Article 9 of the UDHR states:  “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile”. The UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) Article 1 defines torture and clearly prohibits such a practice.

Furthermore, I believe those who have committed crimes against me, including keeping me isolated at the Bambadinka (Crocodile hole), should not be allowed to continue working with the Agency or allowed to walk freely in the streets of Banjul. This would be a travesty!  Schedule 8 of the International Criminal Court Act 2001 clearly defines the above mentioned crimes.

Via this open letter, I would like to draw your attention to the pain and suffering I endured at the hands of NIA officers who once boasted during one of my torture sessions that ‘‘nothing would come out of it’’. I put it to them that I will not relent, yield or surrender in seeking redress until justice is done.

Sirs, I have full confidence in you and trust that those men who physically, psychologically and mentally tortured me will be apprehended and brought to book without further delay.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Yours faithfully,

Alhagie Mbye (LLB Honours)

London, England