Africa

Gambian activist 'died in detention' - Amnesty International

  • 16 April 2016
  • From the section Africa
President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia attends the 44th summit of the 15-nation west African bloc ECOWAS at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Foundation in Yamoussoukro on March 28, 2014. Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption President Yahya Jammeh has ruled The Gambia since a coup 20 years ago

An opposition activist in The Gambia has died in detention, Amnesty International says.

The rights group, along with the other activists, has called for an inquiry into the death of Solo Sandeng.

Another activist Fatoumata Jawara, who was detained with Mr Sandeng during protests on Thursday, is believed to have serious injuries, Amnesty said.

Several senior opposition leaders were arrested on Saturday after demanding answers from the authorities.

There has been no comment yet from the Gambian government.

Tear gas

Amnesty International says Mr Sandeng, the National Organising Secretary of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), and fellow UDP member Ms Jawara were among a number of people detained after taking part in a peaceful protest on Thursday.

The group said the circumstances surrounding Mr Sandeng's death are unclear, but that he died shortly after his arrest. They are also "deeply concerned" for the welfare of Ms Jawara.

"The tragic death in detention of Solo Sandeng must leave no space for impunity. The authorities must conduct an immediate, thorough and independent investigation," said Sabrina Mahtani, Amnesty International West Africa researcher.

Senior members of the UDP, including the leader Ousainu Darboe, held a news conference earlier on Saturday in which they demanded answers.

Along with around 150 supporters, they then began a protest march, but were swiftly rounded up by Gambia's security force who eyewitnesses said fired tear gas at the crowd.

Mr Sandeng had been calling for electoral reform when he was held. The protest happened while long-time leader Yahya Jammeh was out of the country.

The tiny West African nation is set to hold presidential elections in December. Opposition groups have called for reforms to enable the elections to be free and fair.

President Jammeh has ruled The Gambia since he came to power in a coup 20 years ago.

Human Rights Watch last September brought out a report in which it said Gambian forces routinely committed abuses, and political opponents and critics of the president were regular targets.

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