By Omar Bah

A former director of American affairs at the foreign ministry, Melville Roberts, has taken Gambia government to the Ecowas Court for violating his right to access, fair hearing, privacy,  and right to work under equitable and satisfactory conditions among others.

Roberts was removed from his position over allegations of sexual assault. He denied any wrong doing and has since been living abroad. He was charged with rape in absentia.


Mr Roberts is represented by Falana & Falana Chambers, a leading law firm in Nigeria.

Melville is requesting the court to ask The Gambia government to pay him US$500,000 for damages caused to him and the infringement of his rights and entitlement.

Roberts’s complaints to the court include The Gambia government’s decision to continuously deprive him of access to court to afford him opportunity for a fair trial on the allegation of rape levelled against him which is a violation of his fundamental right guaranteed by the relevant provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, the Constitution of The Gambia and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

“That the decision of the [Gambia government] to go ahead with the prosecution of the plaintiff despite a police report clearing him of all offences is discriminatory and an interference with the privacy of the plaintiff; that the suspension of the defendant for over two years without trial is a violation of the plaintiff’s right to work and also a violation of his right to presumption of innocencehis lawyers said.”

The lawyers want the Ecowas Court to make an order directing The Gambia government to reinstate the plaintiff at his work and take cognisance of his promotion, salaries and emoluments. They also asked for The Gambia government to publish the report of the investigation carried out by the police and also to publish an apology to the defendant for all the embarrassment caused him, restraining the defendant from further interfering with the rights and entitlement without lawful cause.