UN expert group on arbitrary detention urges Gambia to respect the rights of journalist Alhagie Ceesay

GENEVA – PRN Africa — The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention today raised concern about the current situation of Alhagie Ceesay and urged the Gambian authorities to ensure that his rights are respected regardless of his location. Mr. Ceesay, the director of the Teranga FM radio station, has been detained and on trial for sedition since July 2015. He was last seen in April 2016 when he was transferred from detention to a hospital to receive urgent medical care. Mr. Ceesay has been hospitalized on several occasions for serious health problems, reportedly due to torture and ill-treatment he has been subjected to while in detention.

In a legal Opinion* adopted in December 2015, the expert panel established that the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Ceesay is arbitrary, and requested the Gambian Government to take the necessary steps to remedy his situation. “We urge the authorities of the Gambia to uphold our Opinion concerning the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Ceesay, which we deemed arbitrary and called for his immediate release,” the Working Group’s experts said. “We reiterate that Gambia must accord Mr. Ceesay an enforceable right to compensation and to ensure that his right to liberty, personal security, freedom of opinion and expression are effectively protected,” they stressed.

The Working Group noted that Mr. Ceesay’s arrest and detention appear to be related to his profession as a journalist, and result from the exercise of his right to freedom of opinion and expression. “We are deeply worried that the crime of ‘sedition’ is used to deny Mr. Ceesay the enjoyment of his rights and freedoms. Mr. Ceesay was arrested twice without a warrant and there have been serious violations of his right to fair trial in the legal proceedings against him,” the Working Group concluded.

SOURCE United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

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