Gambia: U.S. concerned about mistreatment of detained opposition members

Gambia: U.S. concerned about mistreatment of detained opposition members

The United States government has expressed serious concerns over the mistreatment of detained opposition members in Gambian prisons after the death of the UDP’s Ebrima Solo Kurumah made news on Monday.

A U.S. government spokesperson said the mistreatment is evident by recent deaths and allegations of torture.

The Gambia’s largest opposition party UDP has held President Yahya Jammeh liable for the deaths and the U.S. called for an independent investigation.

Activist Lawyer Assan Martin said President Jammeh must be held responsible of the death of UDP supporters.

The Gambia’s government has been called upon to immediately release all political prisoners, including the 30 individuals sentenced last month and those arrested during the April and May demonstrations demanding electoral reform, return of the death body of one of their party leaders and greater freedom for Gambians.

President Jammeh’s administration has been urged to cease its sustained crackdown on political opposition members and supporters, and to respect the rights of all citizens to freedoms of expression and association without fear of retribution.

Kurumah was arrested by on May 9 and given a three year sentence in July for participating in a peaceful protest demanding the release of other party supporters and the release of the body of a senior opposition official who was tortured to death in custody.

Kurumah was arrested on his way home after making a series of speeches in Banjul. Kurumah was a closed ally to UDP Organizing Secretary Solo Sandeng, whose torture-death was confirmed by the United Nations. Kurumah demanded the release of UDP leader Ousainou Darboe and more than three dozen others who were arrested in April.

Prison wardens allowed UDP officials to see the remains of Mr Kurumah on Monday.

Videos online show riot police beating protesters with bartons, kicking and slapping them. The international community has since condemn the action of the security forces and asked for an independent investigation. Gambian security forces have been accused of serious right violations and the use of torture on political detainees.

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