|"I will not sacrifice the peace and security of the country at the alter of Press Freedom" - President Jammeh (pix by statehouse.gm)|
H.E. Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh
President of the Republic of The Gambia
Banjul, The Gambia
Via facsimile +220 4227 034
Dear President Jammeh:
We request clarification of your March 16 comments suggesting "Chief" Ebrima Manneh, a reporter for the Daily Observer, may have died. Manneh disappeared after witnesses saw him being arrested by state security agents in the offices of the Daily Observer on July 7, 2007. The government has previously denied any knowledge of Manneh's fate.
"Let me make it very clear that the government has nothing to do with the death of Chief Manneh or Deyda Hydara or the disappearances of so many people," you said in a meeting with representatives of Gambian media that was broadcast on state television. You also suggested Manneh might have disappeared after attempting to illegally migrate to Europe or the United States.
Your statement implies knowledge of Manneh's fate that has not been conveyed to the journalist's family or disclosed publicly. In all previous public comments, administration officials have consistently denied any knowledge of Manneh's detention, whereabouts, or legal status. Those comments were made despite sightings of Manneh in government custody after his 2007 arrest. Government denials were also issued in response to a June 2008 ruling by the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States, which found sufficient evidence to conclude Gambian authorities had improperly detained Manneh.
In the interest of transparency and to relieve the anguish of Manneh's family, which deserves to know his fate, we call on you to fully disclose your knowledge of Manneh's fate and to order all appropriate investigations into his case.
We look forward to your response.