The 16-year-boy from Bakau was on 9 September 2020 arrested by officers of the Senegalese Wildlife and Parks authorities after been allegedly reported for illegal fishing within the territorial waters in Abena, Casamance before his release on 3 November 2020 on the heels of several protests on social media by Gambians requesting the government of President Adama Barrow to intervene.
Ousman, in an interview with The Point, said he spent more than 20 days without setting eye on the sun, saying he slept on the floor with mosquitoes biting him for the whole night in prison.
“I have faced serious health complications while in detention in Senegal. For the first time my legs were swollen with chest and back-pain. At the moment I even struggle with my back-bone because of lying on floor. Even if someone touches my back a bit, I extremely feel the pain which I had never experienced before,” he said.
He revealed that the type of food he was served at the prison was never in good condition, saying the situation had also given him severe stomach pains plus sleepless nights.
“The most worrying thing today is my health. Even if I want to pick something from the ground, it looks like two objects before my eyes,” he said.
“So I am appealing to the government to provide me with all necessary support so that I can have medical attention.”
He further added that both his parents were not able to settle the 30,000 dalasi requested by a court in Ziguinchor to enable his release from Senegal.
According to his father, the fine was settled by one Ousman Saidy, a lecturer.
“Even when we were released from prison we could not have fares to come back to The Gambia. So what my father did was to enter one mosque in Casamance during one Friday prayer and appealed for transport to allow us enter The Gambia. So how do you expect my parents to afford the necessary medical bills for me?”
Saikou Ceesay, spokesperson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in an interview, said the government following confirmation of the arrest and detention of a Gambian teenager, tasked the permanent secretary to work in relation with the Gambia High Commissioner in Senegal to enable the release of the 16-year-old.
“The government has facilitated for the release of a 16-year-old Gambian teenager from prison together with our embassy in Senegal after the permanent secretary was assigned by the Foreign Affairs minister to work out his release,” he said.
The government of President Adama Barrow and its Senegalese counterparts signed a bilateral cooperation in 2017 that allows citizens of each country to fish in each other’s territorial waters without any legal implications.