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Open Letter To President Jammeh

Aug 19, 2009, 7:04 AM

His Excellency Sheikh, Prof., Dr. Alhaj Yahya A.J.J Jammeh

President of the Republic of The Gambia

State House



Your Excellency,




The Solidarity for African Women's Rights (SOAWR) is a coalition comprising thirty-three (33) organisations across Africa which works towards the popularisation, domestication and implementation of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

SOAWR extends its compliments to the President of the Republic of The Gambia, His Excellency, Sheikh Prof. Alhaji Yahya A.J.J Jammeh, and hereby wish to appeal for clemency from your good office regarding the case of the recently jailed journalists, and in particular Mrs. Sarata Jabbi-Dibba, who is nursing a seven-month-old baby.

Your Excellency, we note that after the sentencing, the child was separated from the mother by the Social Welfare Department and put in the custody of the SOS Children's Village in Bakoteh. Sarata Jabbi Dibba is the First Vice-President of the Gambia Press Union, and a freelance reporter for the Point Newspaper. She is a fervent reporter of Women and Children's rights and a staunch promoter of gender, freedom of expression and the media. She runs a regular column on gender issues, called "SHE SHE SHE" and since her incarceration the column has remained dormant.

Your Excellency, SOAWR notes that The Gambia is one of the twenty-seven (27) African countries that have ratified the African Union (AU) Protocol on the Rights of Women and continues to be seen as a beacon of hope for women's rights in Africa. It is the seat of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and has played host to important gender meetings, including recently hosting the AU Gender Experts meeting in May, 2009; and is also expected to host the Beijing plus 15 review meeting in October, 2009. The Gambia has also passed a number of laws that seek to protect the rights of the child, and in particular, we would like to draw your attention to Section 218 (2) of the Gambian Children's Act 2005, which provides "A court shall, on sentencing an expectant or a nursing mother, consider the imposition of a non-institutional sentence as an alternative measure to imprisonment"

Coalition Members:

African Centre for Democracy And Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), Akina Mama Wa Afrika, Association des Juristes

Maliennes, Cellule de Coordination sur les Pratiques Traditionelle Affectant la Sante des Femmes et des Enfants, BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights, Centre for Justice Studies and Innovations (CJSI), Coalition on Violence Against Women, Collectif des Associations et ONGS Féminines de Burundi (CAFOB), Eastern Africa Sub-regional Support Initiative (EASSI), Equality Now-Africa Regional Office, FAHAMU, FAMEDEV-Inter-African Network For Women, Media, Gender and Development, Girl Child Network, FEMNET - African Women's Development and Communication Network, Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya (FIDA-Kenya), Forum Muhler, Inter-African Committee on Harmful Traditional Practices (IAC), Human Rights Law Service (HURILAWS), Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), Oxfam GB, People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA), Sister Namibia, Strategic Initiative for the Horn of Africa (SIHA), Uganda Women's Network (UWONET),Union Nationale des Femmes de Djibouti, Voix de Femmes, University of Pretoria Center for Human Rights, Women Direct, Women of Liberia Peace Network (WOLPNET), Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF), Women's Rights Advancement and Protection Alternatives (WRAPA).