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Amnesty asks gov’t to drop sedition charges against Madi

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By Omar Bah

Amnesty International has written to President Adama Barrow urging his government to unconditionally drop all charges against human rights and political activist Madi Jobarteh.

In May 2022, President Adama Barrow accused Mr Jobarteh of being a “troublemaker” who wanted to bring violence into the country.

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Since then Mr Jobarteh has claimed that he has been receiving online threats, harassment, and intimidation from government authorities, including unlawful surveillance. 

He has since been arrested, detained and charged with seditious intention, incitement to violence, broadcasting and giving false information.

On 23 November, 2023, his case was sent to the Attorney General’s Chambers for advice. If convicted for these charges, Madi Jobarteh could face up to six years in prison.

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While in custody, he said he was denied access to his lawyer. On 15 October, 2023, he was released on a bail bond of D100,000 and was required to report to the police.

In a statement seen by The Standard, Amnesty International said it is concerned that the charges against Madi Jobarteh are politically motivated as they are based on his activities as a human rights defender.

“We are writing to express our concern about the intimidation, harassment, threats, and attacks against human rights defender Madi Jobarteh. On 2 May 2022, Your Excellency accused Madi Jobarteh of being ‘a troublemaker’ who wants to bring violence and burn down the country, putting his safety and security at risk. Madi Jobarteh has since faced online intimidation, harassment, threats, and attacks,” Amnesty stated.

The organisation accused Gambian authorities of using criminal charges to prevent Mr Jobarteh from freely exercising his rights to freedom of expression and association and carrying out his human rights activities.

“In so doing, the Gambian authorities violate their international human rights obligations under both the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantee the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, and association.

“In light of the above, we urge you to ensure that the baseless charges against Madi Jobarteh are immediately dropped and that he is allowed to freely exercise his human rights. We also urge you to ensure all allegations of intimidation, harassment, threats, and attacks against Madi Jobarteh and his family are promptly, thoroughly, independently, impartially, transparently, and effectively investigated, and suspected perpetrators are brought to justice in fair trials.

“Finally, we urge you to ensure that Madi Jobarteh is able to freely carry out his human rights work without any reprisals and that his right to privacy is respected, including by returning his phone and that of his daughter,” it added.

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