13th August 2009
President and Minister of Defence
Captain (retd) Alhaji Yaha A.J.J. Jammeh
The non-political association of writers, PEN International, strongly protests the jailing of six journalists, charged with “criminal defamation” and convicted to two years in prison and heavy fines, and further time in prison unless the fines are being paid. Their “crime” seems to be criticism of Your Excellency, an act which according to international conventions regarding the right to freedom of expression, is fully acceptable and legal. The Gambian Constitution also guarantees its citizen freedom of expression.
We call for the immediate release of Emil Touray, Sarata Jabbi-Diba, Pa Modou Fall, Pap Saine, Ebrima Sawaneh and Sam Sarr. And we particularly ask that Pap Saine is given qualified medical aid for his heart condition.
Your Excellency, we trust that you will look into this case and make sure that national and international laws and standards are being observed.
Thanking you in advance
member, Writers in Prison Committee of Norwegian PEN
Sent by e-mail with e-mail copy to Attorney General and Secretary of State of Justice, Mrs Marie Saine Firdas
Attorney General and Secretary of State for Justice
Hon. Kebba Sanyang
Department of State for Justice and Attorney General’s Chambers
Banjul, Republic of the Gambia
Fax: + 220 4225 352
Dear Secretary of State, 15 November 2007
Norwegian PEN is greatly concerned that Fatou Jaw Manneh, US-based contributor to the opposition website AllGambian.net and former reporter for the Gambian independent newspaper Daily Observer, was arrested on her arrival in Banjul in March 2007. She was detained incommunicado for a week and is now on trial for sedition for writing articles critical of the Gambian President.
Fatou Jaw Manneh faces a heavy prison sentence if convicted. The trial has been continually delayed as it is passed from court to court. PEN believes that the criminal charges faced by Manneh are a violation of her right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Gambian Constitution and international human rights treaties.
The trial is being dragged out, and these delays have prompted speculation that the state lacks evidence for the prosecution and is trying to buy time. We fear that she is not given a prompt and fair trial that meets international human rights standards,
Norwegian PEN urges Gambian authorities to drop the criminal charges against Fatou Jaw Manneh, which International PEN believes contravene her right to freedom of expression under the Gambian Constitution and international human rights treaties to which Gambia is a party, including the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.
Elisabet W. Middelthon, Chair Writers in Prison Committee, Norwegian PEN
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Gambian Representative in Norway