Thursday, December 13, 2012

Opposition intensify calls for Imam Baba Leigh’s release

Imam Leigh, a human rights activist and critic of the flaws of the Jammeh-regime was arrested on December 3, 2012 and is still detained as of yesterday

Opposition politicians in The Gambia have intensified calls on the President Yahya Jammeh’s government to release Imam Baba Leigh, a respected religious leader who was arrested by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) on December 3, 2012.
The reason for his arrest is still shrouded in mystery as he is yet to appear before a court of law. A spokesperson for the family said neither the family members nor his lawyer has had access to him. The human rights activist Imam is reported to being held at the headquarters of the NIA in Banjul.

On Monday, the leader of the opposition National Reconciliation Party (NRP) Mr. Hamat N.K. Bah told The Voice that the Imam’s arrested and continuous detention is unlawful and violates his constitutional rights. 

He said Imam Leigh is detained beyond the legal limit of 72 hours. It is entrenched in National Constitution that a person should be notified of reason of arrest within three hours and must be brought before a court of law to answer to a charge(s) within 72 hours.  

“This type of constitutional violations will tarnish the image of this country,” Mr. Bah said on December 10. “The negative publicity” about such practices is extremely bad for the country particularly when it comes to investment.” 

He said the government should adhere to, in practice, its usual bragging of defending the constitution, especially during the height of the debate on the “controversial execution of death row inmates.”
He called on the authorities concerned to ensure the Imam is released immediately.

The leader of the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) Mr. Ousainou Darboe, describe the numerous arrests and detention of Muslim religious leader in the country as a “lack of respect for the Islamic religion.”

This must stop, he said extending the list of religious leaders previously arrested and detained – from Imam Karamo Touray, Imam Ismaila Manjang, Imam Sheriff Abba Hydra, Imam Bakawsu Fofana to Imam Baba Leigh.

He accuses the Jammeh-administration of cracking down on religious leaders (Imams) who criticizes instead of praise-sing the powers that be.

“It is very wrong for a person Gambian or non-Gambian to be arrested and kept incommunicado,” he argued. “It does not only deprive them of their liberty and constitutional rights, it is inhuman treatment.”

Overthe weekend (on December 8), Mr. Omar Jallow (OJ), the designated spokespersonof Imam Baba Leigh’s Family told The Voice since the arrest and subsequent detention of the Imam of Kanifing East Mosque, no family member(s) or his lawyer has had access to him.

He should be released immediately without further delay, OJ demanded. 

In September 2012, the outspoken Imam Leigh contributed significantly to a “healthy national debate” on an August 26 execution of nine death row inmates which was widely regarded as “controversial”. He denounced the executions carried out by The Gambia Government upon the order of the president Jammeh as “Un-Islamic”.

Source: The Voice

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