Fourth UDP member dies less than a year into jailing

A fourth member of the Gambia’s main UDP party has died, barely a year after the arrest of dozens of opposition activists that took part in anti-government protests at Westfield Square.

Ebrima Janko Ceesay died on Thursday, party officials say. Ceesay was arrested with UDP Organizing Secretary, Solo Sandeng. They were torture and Sandeng died of his torture wounds.

Nine former security officers of former President Yahya Jammeh’s secret service are being prosecuted for Sandeng’s death and for the torture of Ceesay, Nogoi Njie and Fatoumata Jawara, a newly elected Member of Parliament.

Ceesay’s father, a former journalist, Madi Ceesay is a National Assembly Member for Serrekunda West. He was sworn-in on Tuesday.

Ceesay, a young man in his late 20s was tortured while in detention. Some of his colleagues went into a coma for days. He had been missing for months before security sources disclosed his whereabouts to the press.

UDP supporters who were detained by Jammeh’s loyalist were denied medical care. The UN expressed deep concerns and the Jammeh administration denied UN Human Rights Commission access to the nation to investigate the allegations.

Opposition detainees were held at the Mile II Central Prison, where torture was prevalent. Prisoners reported deaths from malnutrition and food poisoning, accusing the government of feeding them with expired food products.

The U.S. State Department says the prison is congested and inhumane. Political detainees were held in solitary confinement under poor sanitary conditions.

Jammeh denied two UN rapporteurs access to the security wing of the prison. The UN investigators say killings and torture were a consistent practice in the prison. The former chief warden of the facility, David Colley has been charged but released on bail.

Gambia’s new government has vowed to probe human rights abuses committed during Jammeh’s rule. A truth commission is set to commence hearing by Septemeber, the first step to uncovering decades of torture, killings and enforced detentions.

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