I write again to express my grave concern regarding the arrest and detention of Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, professor of political science at University of The Gambia.
Dr. Ceesay has been held in custody for in apparent retaliation for peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression and for the principles of academic freedom — In addition to the harm to Dr. Ceesay’s, arrests in retaliation for peaceful scholarly work and expression threaten the well-being of higher education communities and undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.
If the Gambian authorities are serious about their commitment to human rights, they will immediately and unconditionally release Dr. Ismaila Ceesay and respect his right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. The international community must stop looking the other way and hold the Gambian authorities to their word.
In cases like that of Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, involving alleged infringement of these freedoms, The Gambia government must investigate hoping to clarify and resolve matters favorably.
The decision to deny Dr. Ceesay’s counsel’s request—particularly absent a showing of a specific and credible concern regarding security—infringes on fundamental due process rights, including the right to counsel.
As a concerned Gambian any additional information that may explain these events or clarify my understanding arresting a scholar in exercise of his rights.
Absent this, the facts as described raise significant due process concerns, and suggest that Dr. Ceesay is being prosecuted in retaliation for his nonviolent exercise of the right to free expression, conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which The Gambia is party.
I respectfully urge The Gambian authorities to secure Dr. Ceesay’s release, ensure his right to, publicly reaffirm The Gambia’s commitment to academic freedom and freedom of expression, and to refrain from future retaliation against the peaceful exercise of these rights.