Annual Prison Census 2011 - Gambia
|Publisher||Committee to Protect Journalists|
|Publication Date||8 December 2011|
|Cite as||Committee to Protect Journalists, Annual Prison Census 2011 - Gambia, 8 December 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4f0420adc.html [accessed 18 June 2013]|
Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2011
"Chief" Ebrima Manneh, Daily Observer
Imprisoned: July 7, 2006
In 2011, the government's justice minister publicly acknowledged knowing the condition of "Chief" Ebrima Manneh, a reporter with the pro-government Daily Observer who disappeared in state custody after his 2006 arrest by two plainclothes officers of the National Intelligence Agency. The reason for the arrest remained unclear, although some colleagues believe it was linked to his attempt to republish a BBC article critical of President Yahya Jammeh.
Sketchy and conflicting details about Manneh's whereabouts, health, and legal status have emerged over the years. Eyewitnesses reported seeing him in government custody in December 2006 and in July 2007, according to CPJ research. Agence France-Presse quoted an unnamed police official in 2009 as saying that Manneh had been spotted at Mile 2 prison in 2008. But the official also speculated that Manneh was no longer alive, AFP reported.
In October 2011, Justice Minister Edward Gomez said in an interview with the local newspaper Daily News that Manneh was alive. "Chief Ebrima Manneh is alive, and we will talk about this case later," Gomez told AFP in a subsequent interview. His comments contrast with a series of government denials and obfuscations.
In a nationally televised meeting with local media representatives in March 2011, President Jammeh described Manneh as having died while denying any government involvement in the journalist's fate. "Let me make it very clear that the government has nothing to do with the death of Chief Manneh," he said. In July, national police spokesman Yorro Mballow told CPJ that police had no information about Manneh. In September, Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy told CPJ that the government did not arrest Manneh and that she had no knowledge of his whereabouts.
The Gambia has resisted international appeals to free Manneh by, among others, six U.S. senators, UNESCO, and the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States.