By Amanda Moutrage & Awal Mohammed
Amnesty International and other civil society groups are advocating for the immediate release of Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh, a Gambian national who was arrested last year for treason.
According to the groups, Dr Janneh's continues detention constitutes a violation to his right to freedom of expression, in accordance with the Gambian Constitution and other International Human Rights treaties.
This call was made at a press conference on the occasion of the Gambia Day of Action, observed at the International Press Centre in Accra.
Along with representatives from the Human Rights Advocacy Centre and the Media Foundation of West Africa, the objectives were highlights as a matter of urgency, mainly concerning Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh, a Gambian national who was arrested last year for treason.
On 7 June 2011, Dr. Janneh was arrested for being in possession of T-shirts which featured the slogan 'End to Dictatorship now'. He was, therefore, accused for the production and distribution of these shirts and sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour.
The Day of Action is held annually on 23 July, 2012, coinciding with Gambia's Freedom Day held on 22, July 2012. Mr. Vincent Adzahlie-Mensah of the University of Education -Winneba, briefly highlighted that while Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh states that Freedom Day is dedicated to celebrating the day, he took power during a military coup.
Amnesty International insist that 'the dire human rights situation in the Gambia and the restrictions on freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly makes President Jammeh's self-proclaimed 'freedom day' laughable.'
Mr. Adzahlie-Mensah also highlighted the incident where 50 foreigners, including 44 Ghanaian nationals, were killed by Gambian security forces with no explanation. He also mentioned that hostilities towards journalists, human rights activists and political opponents in the Gambia has worsened with the majority being subjected to unlawful arrests and detentions, torture, unfair trials, harassments, assaults and death threats.
Since March 2006, several political figures have been unlawfully killed or subjected to unexplainable disappearances and unfair sentencing.
Human Rights Advocacy Centre's representative, Mr. Robert Akoto Amoafo explained that people arrested unlawfully have no access to legal representation and are held for longer than 72 hours without a charge. He stated that this is in violation according to Gambia's 1997 Constitution where several articles under Chapter 4 protect the rights to life, protection of personal liberties, prohibiting arbitrary arrests and detentions as well protecting freedom of speech and privacy and prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of political opinion.
As apart of this years Day of Action, Amnesty International are demanding the immediate release of Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh with all charges made against him are dropped. They are also demanding a stop to unfair trials in the Gambia, a call for the eradication of violating and control of the freedom of expression within Gambia.