(JollofNews) – Amnesty International has called on the Gambian regime of Yahya Jammeh to immediately reveal the whereabouts of the teenage boys of one of the armed dissidents involved in last December’s attempted coup.
Yusupha Lowe, 16, and Alieu Lowe, 19, were arrested at the beginning of January together with their mother, Jariatou Lowe, by men in plain clothes claiming to be following presidential orders.
A few weeks later, Jariatou Lowe was released without charge. However, Yusupha Lowe and Alieu Lowe remain in incommunicado detention, without being charged and having no access to lawyers or family members. Initial reports had indicated that Yusupha Lowe was being held at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters in Banjul but credible sources now indicate that he is no longer being held there. His current whereabouts remain unknown and his family is concerned about his safety.
The boys’ father, former Warrant Officer Class 2 of the Gambia Armed Forces, Baboucar ‘Bai’ Lowe, was part of the Alpha team armed with night-vision goggles, body armour and semi-automatic rifles bought at shops in the US, hidden beneath clothes and shipped in barrels to the Gambia that attacked the front gate of the presidential palace in Banjul.
He reportedly took to his heels after watching two of his colleagues, Lt Colonel Lamin Sanneh and Captain Njaga Jagne killed in the shoot-out with soldiers loyal to the Gambian regime.
President Yahya Jammeh has since vowed to use retributive justice on the dissidents and anyone involved in the attack in order to put an end to their ‘nonsense’. And making good of his promise to get rid of the dissidents trying to topple his regime one after the other, Mr Jammeh has ordered the arrest and detention incommunicado of scores of civilians including relatives and family members of the dissidents without charge.
Amnesty International said although it is not clear how many people remain in incommunicado detention, it is concerned about the unlawful detention without charge of Yusupha Lowe and other relatives of the December 2014 coup suspects, well beyond the 72 hour time limit provided in Gambia’s constitution and other human rights laws and treaties.
“The Gambian government has refused to acknowledge the detention of Yusupha Lowe and many others and has not provided information on their whereabouts, effectively holding them outside of the protection of the law,” the right group said.
“This amounts to enforced disappearance, a crime under international law. As their whereabouts remain unknown, they are at a high risk of torture and other abuses.”
It therefore called on the regime to promptly charge Yusupha Lowe and all other detainees with an internationally recognisable criminal offence should there be sufficient evidence or else immediately release them.
It also called on the regime to immediately provide all the people detained in relation to the December 2014 coup attempt access to their families and lawyers and ensure that all detainees are not subjected to torture or ill-treatment while in detention.