Conviction and Imprisonment of Dr Amadou Scattred Janneh Condemned
The following is a press release coming out of the Gambia in response to the very unfortunate trial and sentencing of activists there. We offer our solidarity in these tough times.
January 17, 2012 - The Coalition for Change The Gambia and Civil Society Associations Gambia vehemently denounce and condemn the guilty verdict, conviction and life imprisonment, today of Dr Amadou Scattred Janneh and three others namely Modou Keita, Ebrima Jallow, Micheal Ucheh Thomas for the printing and distribution of T-Shirts with the Slogan “Coalition for Change The Gambia, End Dictatorship Now.”
CCG, CSAG label today’s verdict and the trial that preceded it a travesty of justice, charade and a waste of Gambian taxpayers’ money.
Dr Janneh has been been found guilty and convicted of all four counts. On Count One and Two, Dr Amadou Scattred Janneh is to serve a life imprisonment. On Counts three and four, Dr Janneh, Modou Keita, Ebrima Jallow and Micheal Ucheh Thomas are to serve three years in prison with hard labour.
CCG members Ndey Tapha Sosseh, Mathew K. Jallow, Famara Demba cited in charges one and two could not be tried or convicted as they are out of the jurisdiction.
Today, January 17 marks another dark, indelible stain in the history of the Gambian judiciary, where another Kangaroo Court, non-Gambian recruited judge of the High Court, Justice Emmanuel Nkea, despite Constitutional guarantees to Freedom of Expression, an independent judiciary and despite a weak and senseless prosecution effort, has allowed himself, to be used openly and publicly by the Executive to further enforce its reign of terror.
There is pain and trauma inflicted on the families of the printers, who by virtue of the fact that they printed t-shirts are being criminalized by the state authorities and a legal system geared towards ensuring, aiding and abetting a dictatorial government to bolster tyranny and impose fear. CCG, CSAG will never fail them, we will work with and alongside them to ensure they get the justice they deserve.
For Dr Amadou Scattred Janneh, we salute him as our hero, our mentor, our guide and our founding member. We are certain that a life imprisonment and even torture cannot quell his courage nor kill his spirit. He, like us, knows that we will fight this travesty of justice with every last drop of our blood.
CCG still stands by its decision to print and distribute the T-Shirts and today’s decision, no matter how many of us on the ground are picked up, detained, and or imprisoned; extradition threats for those of us outside will not be a reason for us to stop. We believe in our rights to express ourselves, our concerns and the printing of t-shirts was an act of expression, which we intend to continue. CCG believes that peaceful protest for which Dr Janneh has been charged with treason and is sentenced to life is also a fundamental right and a civil responsibility, and we are ready to hold the state authorities accountable, at whatever price.
Our protest, our demands are not because of us or Dr Janneh, the entrepreneur, the intellectual, the professor. He, like many of his ilk could have chosen to look the other way and continue with his comfortable life. We, as a nation can continue to pretend not to care, to pretend that being a part of the status quo or giving up our voices is the best way to protect ourselves. We at the CCG, CSAG say NO. A tyrant, a dictator, like a vampire is never satisfied, NEVER SATISFIED and until they suck the last drop of blood, there will always be another victim.
Today, Dr Janneh is sentenced alongside three other innocent victims of a lawless state. We are the CCG are proud that Gambians like Dr Janneh stand tall to be counted among the very few Gambian voices on the ground speaking out against impunity, constitutional and human rights violations and other State engineered terrorist acts with the hope of getting attention of the Gambian people to bringing about change, to demand that our leaders ensure accountability, transparency, good governance and respect for human rights. For this, he has paid a high price.
We are today more convinced that going to Mile II Central Prisons, being sentenced to death for standing up for what is right is the only solution to bringing about the meaningful change that we seek and therefore, we shall not be cowed.
Like Dr Janneh, each and every member of the CCG is today more convinced that there is no price too high for freedom. We renew today our pledge to speak up, to protest, to continue to make our demands, to print, distribute t-shirts indicating our disgust and setting the agenda for change.
CCG and CSAG will immediately launch an appeal in The Gambia Court of Appeal, for one reason and one reason alone. It is the only institution that can overturn the decision of the High Court. In a similar manner and for the fact that we have no faith in a flawed Gambian judicial system that demonstrates open bias, we shall seek redress through the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights and the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice and all other regional, international avenues within which we can see this decision overturned.
Today’s Court decision only confirms our claims that the Gambian judiciary is being used to bolster State-supported tyranny and oppression.
CCG reiterates its call for a Gambia where every citizen is free to openly express themselves and participate in debates, fora, protests geared towards national development without fear of State retaliation.
We thank our legal team for the courage to take up this case. To all the individuals, families and institutions at home and abroad who have reached out to us in writing, in protest, through the phone and financially at the trying moments of the trial we say a big Thank You.
Your support is greatly appreciated and has given us the strength and willpower to continue in our quest for CHANGE.
This has been our baptism of fire and we pledge to continue to exercise our rights as Gambian citizens to express our concerns and to hold the executive accountable.
Banka Manneh, Chairman
Ndey Tapha Sosseh , Secretary General