The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the governments of the United States of America and The Gambia to disclose information about the whereabouts of missing Gambian journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh who has not been seen since his arrest on 11 July 2006 by the Gambia Police Force of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). His disappearance followed the murder of another prominent journalist Deyda Hydara who was killed on 16 December 2004.
“The fact that six years on, The Gambia government has failed to resolve the disappearance of Chief Ebrima Manneh and the murder of Deyda Hydara is a bad sign,” said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa Director. “We call on the US Government to investigate the Gambian authorities’ claim that the missing journalist may be on the American territory.”
The Inspector General of Police, Yankuba Sonko in an interview with The Standard newspaper on Tuesday 22 May indicated that his organisation received information from Interpol that Chief Ebrima Manneh was in the United States of America. This information was also carried by AFP.
Chief Ebrima Manneh, a former reporter of the pro-government Banjul-based Daily Observer newspaper was arrested at the Daily Observer premises in the presence of his colleagues. He was sighted several times in the custody of state security services.
On 05 June 2008, The ECOWAS Court ruled that the arrest and detention incommunicado of Chief Ebrima Manneh was illegal and ordered the Gambian authorities to immediately release him. The Court dismissed the claims by the Gambian side that Manneh was never in their custody, and awarded damages in the sum of US$ 100,000 in favor of Manneh against the Gambian government. So far The Gambia government has neither complied with the judgment of ECOWAS nor engaged in a thorough investigation to shed light on the disappearance of missing journalist.
According to a former staff reporter at the Daily Observer newspaper who testified before the ECOWAS Court, Chief Manneh was arrested by State Security agents at his place of work. Another witness said that he saw Manneh in a police station in Fatoto in the Upper River Region of the country.
“The Gambia Government officials have been making conflicting statements over the disappearance of Chief Manneh. Rather than engaging in a speculative expedition, it is important for the State to do its utmost with the sole objective of locating Chief Manneh’s whereabouts,” said the Gambia Press Union, GPU.
“The Gambia is among the African countries with the worst record on freedom of expression and media freedom,” added Baglo.
For more information, please contact IFJ on +221- 33 867 95 87
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries