Rupert Colville
Rupert Colville

(JollofNews) – Expressing deep concern about the situation of dozens of protesters who were arrested during a peaceful rally on 14 and 16 April in the Gambian capital of Banjul, the United Nations human rights arm today urged the Government to release all those who have been detained for simply having exercised their rights to freedom of expression, opinion and assembly.

“We have received worrying reports that some of them, who are still in detention, have been tortured,” Spokesperson Rupert Colville of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) told reporters in Geneva. “There are also reports that their family members have not been allowed to visit them, and some have been denied access to medical care.”

OHCHR also reiterated its call to the Gambian authorities to launch an impartial investigation into the reported death in custody of Solo Sandeng, Chairman of the youth wing of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) on 14 April.

Two other female opposition figures, Fatoumata Jawara and Nogoi Njai, who had been feared dead, were found in custody – but reportedly in very bad condition.

The Office is also deeply worried about the situation of Alhagie Ceesay, Director of the Teranga FM radio station, who has been on trial for sedition and false information since July 2015.

Ceesay has been hospitalized on several occasions for serious health problems reportedly due to torture and ill-treatment he has endured while in detention. He was last seen alive on 11 April.

“We urge the Gambian Government to clarify his whereabouts, ensure that he is not submitted to torture and ill-treatment, and guarantee that his right to fair trial is fully respected,” the spokesperson said.