The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention which works under the Human Rights Council of the United Nations has opined Alhaji Abdoulie Ceesay, Manager Teranga FMthat the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Alhagie Abdoulie Ceesay is arbitrary.

According to its Opinion, adopted on 4 December 2015, on 27 August 2015 the Working Group transmitted a communication to the Government of The Gambia concerning Alhagie Abdoulie Ceesay but the Government has not replied to the communication. Gambia is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

According to the report, “In the present case, the information submitted by the source is detailed and coherent. In addition, the source has provided judicial documents from The Gambia which fully corroborates the facts as it reports them. Moreover, these facts are also confirmed by various other sources in the public domain. Finally the allegations here coincide with a pattern of abuses occurring in The Gambia which have been presented to the Human Rights Council in various processes.”

The Working Group has also expressed concern of the crime of “sedition” for which Mr Ceesay is charged and describes it as denying the enjoyment of freedoms. It wants the Government to reconsider its interpretation of this crime and is available to assist the Government in that regard.

It is argued that there is no legal basis for the detention. It was indicated that on two separate occasions, Mr. Ceesay was arrested without any notification of the charges against him for a period lasting beyond the 72 hours permitted by the Gambia Constitution. Each of these instances was in violation of Articles 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

It was noted that there is a universal prohibition against incommunicado detention and detention in places other than those dedicated to detention.

The Working Group rendered the following opinion: The deprivation of liberty of Mr. Alhagie Abdoulie Ceesay is arbitrary. In consequence, the Working Group has requested the Government of The Gambia to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr. Ceesay. Taking into account all the circumstances of the case, the Working Group is of the view that the adequate remedy would be to immediately release Mr. Ceesay, to accord him an enforceable right to compensation and to ensure that freedom of opinion and expression is better protected.

Finally, the Working Group has referred the allegation of torture to the Special Rapporteur on torture for further investigations and appropriate measures.

The detailed opinion will be published in subsequent editions of Foroyaa.