Gambia: Two women’s rights activists, and WLUML networkers, arrested

The Daily Observer (Banjul)

WLUML has learned that prominent women’s rights activists, Dr. Isatou Touray and Ms. Amie Bojang-Sissoho of GAMCOTRAP, have been arrested and are currently awaiting trial. Please see the news report below and the Action section of the WLUML website for what you can do. "Principal Magistrate Emmanuel Nkea of the Banjul Magistrates Court yesterday, Tuesday, 12th of October, 2010 ordered that Dr Isatou Touray, the executive director of The Gambia Committee on traditional practices affecting the health of women and children (Gamcotrap) and Amie Bojang-Sissoho, programme coordinator of Gamcotrap be remanded in prison custody until the 20th of October, 2010 pending the completion of police investigation into the alleged offence said to have been committed by the duo.  

The two are standing trial on a criminal charge of theft and the particulars stated that Dr Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho, sometime in the year 2009 in Banjul and in diverse places jointly stole the sum of 30,000 Euros being money provided by the YALOCAMBA SOLIDARIDAD of Spain to Gamcotrap. In his submissions before the court, the lead counsel, L.K. Mboge argued that the offence the accused persons are charged with is a bailable offence, noting that the 1st accused, Dr Isatou Touray has an NGO registered since 1984.

Lawyer Mboge advanced that the accused persons are influential people with families and children in the country and that if granted bail, they would not abscond. He posited that the two accused persons could be made available before the court anytime they are needed if granted bail. The defence counsel informed the court that the two have responsible people who are willing to stand as sureties for them if granted bail, noting that the alleged sum involved would not make them to abscond from the country.

Lawyer Mboge advanced that the two needed adequate time and facilities to prepare for their defence as granting them bail would access them to their legal counsel. He therefore urged the court to grant bail to the accused persons. In his reply, the police prosecutor, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Tijan Badjie, who objected to granting of bail to the duo, advanced that the investigation into the alleged offence is still ongoing.

He further advanced that the two are very influential people, noting that granting them bail at this stage would likely jeopardize the investigation which is likely to be completed in a fortnight. The police prosecutor however urged the court to refuse bail to the accused persons.

In his ruling, Principal Magistrate Emmanuel Nkea disclosed that both the prosecution and the defence advanced several reasons in their submission in which the court has considered several factors. He further disclosed that both parties agreed that the two are influential people in the country, but the defence failed to convince the court that the two accused persons would not interfere with the investigations which the prosecution pointed out is still ongoing.

Magistrate Nkea revealed that he would have asked both sides to file affidavits, which he however considered would delay the court proceedings. Principal Magistrate Emmanuel Nkea however underlined that the two accused persons are indeed influential people and urged the police to expedite their investigations within one week. He then ordered that they be remanded at the State Central Prison at Mile Two until the 20th of October 2010, when they would be made available before the court for the hearing of the case.

Principal Magistrate Nkea further ordered that the two accused persons be allowed to have access to their legal counsel pending the said date, 20th of October 2010, when they would again be arraigned before the court.”

By Sidiq Asemota