Gambia: Call for the fair trial of Dr. Isatou Touray and Ms. Amie Bojang-Sissoho

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Subject: Gambia: Call for the fair trial of Dr. Isatou Touray and Ms. Amie Bojang-Sissoho


Your Excellencies,

I am deeply concerned to learn of the arrests of Dr. Isatou Touray and Ms. Amie Bojang-Sissoho on Monday, October 11, 2010 by an officer of the National Intelligence Agency in the Gambia. According to reports received, they had been threatened and harassed prior to their arrest, before being held in police custody until being transferred to the Mile Two Central Prison on Tuesday, October 12, 2010. The two women were arrested and detained for an alleged misappropriation of 30,000 euros. Their request for bail was denied on Tuesday, October 12 and they were ordered to spend eight days in prison before appearing before the court on Wednesday 20 October.

Further to Dr. Touray and Ms. Bojang-Sissoho being released on bail on Wednesday, I urge that the case against them be withdrawn, and that if it does go to trial that the two WHRDs be guaranteed their right to a free and fair trial in an independent and impartial court, security and dignity of person, and freedom from unlawful detention. We also maintain that human rights defenders and other members of civil society must not be threatened, harassed, or prosecuted on the basis of their peaceable defense of the rights of others.

Dr. Isatou Touray and Ms. Amie Bojang-Sissoho are, respectively, the Executive Director and Program Coordinator for the Gambia Committee for Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRAP), and have for many years been active in the promotion of gender equality, rights of women and children, particularly in the fight against female genital mutilation and other discriminatory practices. Dr Touray is also Secretary General of the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (IAC). She was named "Gambian of the Year" in 2008 by The News and Report Weekly Magazine for her work around FGM and promoting the rights of women and children. Dr. Touray is a Board member of Women Living Under Muslim Laws and both women are involved in transnational networks to promote and protect the rights of women.

In May 2010 the Presidency set up a commission of investigation into the allegation that GAMCOTRAP had been mis-managing donor funds from an organization called Yolocamba Solidaridad. The Coalition for Human Rights in the Gambia states that "After careful investigation, the various reports and documents, the Committee had concluded that allegations of abuse were unfounded. But, after presenting her findings, the commission was dissolved and some of its members dismissed by the Gambian government. A second committee was then established, but while the GAMCOTRAP [was] awaiting the conclusions of this second investigation, the two women were arrested and imprisoned." (http://www.ouestaf.com/Arrestation-de-deux-eminentes-femmes-defenseurs-droits-humains-en-Gambie-Declaration_a3309.html)

We urge they are guaranteed their right to a free and fair trial in an independent and impartial court; security and dignity of person, and freedom from unlawful detention as guaranteed in Articles 9 and 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and Article 19 of the Constitution of the Republic of Gambia. We also demand that if they are not tried within a reasonable time, then without prejudice to any further proceedings which may be brought against them, they be released unconditionally.

I maintain that human rights defenders and other members of civil society must not be threatened, harassed, or prosecuted on the basis of their peaceable defense of the rights of others.

Sincerely yours,


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