Civil society organisations in The Gambia have announced their intent to sue the Inspector General of Police for the “unlawful arrest and detention” of university lecturer, Dr Ismaila Ceesay.
Police arrested the Brikama-born academic on Wednesday, questioned, detained and later released him following press statements he made which the authorities deemed to be security challenged.
Following his overnight stay at the police, 27 civil society organisations held an emergency meeting at Tango offices yesterday at the end of which they resolved to embark on an 11-point plan of action.
These include staging a peaceful protest to defend human rights and democracy in the New Gambia; demanding the IGP offer a public apology to Dr Ceesay; suing the IGP for unlawful arrest and detention; seeking an audience with President Barrow to demand for effective and accountable leadership, promotion of democracy, the protection of human rights and adherence to the rule of law; engaging the National Assembly to ensure the repeal of anti-democratic laws and the creation of human rights friendly laws; and demanding all officers responsible for the arbitrary and unlawful arrest and detention of Dr Ceesay and any infringements on the rights of citizens to be held to account.
The organisations represented at the meeting include Tango, ActionAid, National Youth Council, UTG Faculty and Staff Association, National Youth Parliament, YMCA, Wanep, Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations, Gambia Has Decided, #OccupyWestfield, Duga, Future in Our Hands, GPU and Coalition for Change, The Gambia.
The meeting heard from Dr Ceesay who narrated his ordeal at the police station. He said one ASP Gaye summoned him to report to the police headquarters on Wednesday, 31 January and he ended up being detained for hours and then charged with incitement to violence. Dr Ceesay said he was informed that the charges were going to be dropped the next day. During his detention Dr Ceesay said he was informed that the order for his arrest and charges came from “above”.
He said he was interrogated by a group of security officers one of whom identified himself as ASP Darboe from the Office of the President before being charged by Station Officer Jawara. Following the charges, he said the police pleaded with him to go home but he refused and demanded to be informed of the reasons for his arrest. He said at one point the paramilitary were called to forcibly remove him to no avail. Dr Ceesay said he finally left the police station after the arrival of his lawyer who was assured that the charges would be dropped.