Chief Ebrima Manneh was a senior reporter for the Banjul, Gambia-based Daily Observer. He was arrested by the Gambian National Intelligence Agency on July 7, 2006, and has since been held incommunicado.
The Gambian government refuses to divulge the precise reason for his arrest; however, Manneh’s detention is likely related to his attempt to republish a BBC News article that traces the source of Gambian President Alhaji Yanya Jammeh’s power to a 1994 coup.
Information on Manneh’s current condition is limited. According to the last available information, however, he suffers from grave health problems. Manneh has been held in solitary confinement in dehumanizing conditions. He is also at serious risk of being tortured. According to the U.S. State Department, Gambian security forces torture defendants with “electrocution, cigarette burns, plastic bags held over people’s heads, knife wounds, cold water treatments, and threats of being shot.”
Organizations worldwide have condemned Manneh’s unjust detention. Amnesty International labeled Manneh a prisoner of conscience. The Media Foundation of West Africa filed a petition on Manneh’s behalf before the Community Court of Justice (CCJ) of the Economic Community of West African States. On June 5, 2008, the CCJ issued a judgment declaring Manneh’s detention to be in violation of international law. Under the binding order, The Gambia must release Manneh and pay $100,000 in damages to his relatives. The Gambian government, which did not defend itself in the CCJ proceedings, continues to ignore the ruling.
In November 2009, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found Manneh’s deprivation of liberty to be a violation of international law and called on The Gambia to immediately release him.
Freedom Now represents Manneh as his international pro bono legal counsel along with the international law firm Hogan Lovells US LLP.
Announcing the opinion of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Op-ed by Jeremy Zucker and Brendan Groves
Finding the detention of Mr. Manneh a violation of international law
A letter from six U.S. Senators to The Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission urging it to investigate the case of journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh.