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Momodou Posted - 01 Feb 2018 : 12:22:00
UTG’s Dr. Ceesay held in custody

Foroyaa: February 1, 2018

By Mustapha Jallow, Mohammed S. Bah and Kebba Jeffang

Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, a political science lecturer at the University of The Gambia, is currently held in police custody in over his interview with the Voice Newspaper.

The outspoken political analyst was invited for questioning on 31st of January.

He was detained from Wednesday afternoon after he voluntarily submitted himself, following the invitation from the police headquarters in Banjul and was not released up to the time of going to press.

The police spokesperson, David Kujabi said, Ceesay’s questioning is in connection with his interview with The Voice Newspaper.

“He was just invited to the police headquarters for questioning. He was being questioned on the interview he granted which was published in The Voice Newspaper,” said PRO Kujabi.

Up to the time of going to the press, there was no charge preferred against him.

The President of the National Union of Gambia Students as well as the University of The Gambia Student’ Union, Alpha M.K Lowe, have challenged the authorities to release Ceesay with immediate effect.

He said: “The Gambian students and I are disappointed by this act and urge the authorities to act fast in unconditionally releasing him to resume duties.”

The University’s Social Sciences and Humanities Students Association and the UTG Faculty and Staff Association also expressed disappointment and condemnation for their lecturer’s arrest.

The police last night charged Dr Ceesay with inciting violence contrary to section 59B of the Criminal Code.

At an earlier stage Dr Ceesay was put in a cell but he was later removed from the cell and placed behind the counter.

Dr Ceesay was released this morning and a report on that will be posted soon.
8   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Momodou Posted - 05 Feb 2018 : 14:07:53
Building The New Gambia
By Madi Jobarteh

Understanding the Actions of the Police in the Dr. Ceesay Case

It is important that citizens understand the laws, processes and institutions so that we would be able to appreciate the specific nature of things in order to better protect human rights and the rule of law. We must avoid generalizations where we equate or confuse the general with the specific. It is therefore concerning to hear a lot of citizens focus only on the general in which case we will, by default only aid abuse of power and disregard of the rule of law at the expense of human rights.

For example it is clear that no one is above or below the law. It is also clear that the Police have been empowered to protect human rights, which includes questioning citizens on issues that they believe may jeopardize peace and security hence human rights. It is obvious that Dr. Ceesay is not special but a mere citizen like everyone else. But none of these issues are actually the issue since no one claims the contrary.

The specific issue is that while the police have the authority to do their job, yet in the execution of that job they must be seen to be professional, transparent, accountable and law abiding. Hence when we look at the specific facts of these case it will be seen that the actions of the police raise more questions and doubts than give answers and assurances.

The fact is Dr. Ceesay was called by one officer Gaye who requested his presence at the police headquarters to clarify some comments. Without delay Dr. Ceesay went to Banjul thinking he was going to clarify and go home. Unfortunately this did not happen. Rather he was subjected to interrogation for several hours that then led to his detention. It would appear therefore that Dr. Ceesay was lured to the police premises on the pretext that he was only going to clarify an issue only to be kidnapped.

Furthermore, one of the officers who interrogated Ceesay introduced himself as coming from the Office of the President. We do know that there is no police station inside State House. After several hours of interrogation and detention, Dr. Ceesay was charged with ‘incitement to violence’. This is a 1961 colonial offense whose definition is completely at variance with the facts surrounding Dr. Ceesay’s comments in a newspaper.

Even more seriously, during his interrogation he was made to understand that the order for his invitation, detention, interrogation and subsequent charge came from ‘Above’. Who or what is the ‘Above”? This has not been clarified.

Now, when one looks at these specifics, one must be concerned as a citizen that this is not the kind of processes and institutions that the Gambia deserves post-Yaya Jammeh. It can be seen clearly that the arrest of Dr. Ceesay was not even an independent professional initiative of the police. Rather it is clear that the police were taking orders from “Above” that we don’t even know. Anywhere that the law enforcement agency receives directives from outside to act must be a concern to all.

Secondly what we need to bear in mind is that the comment that Dr. Ceesay made was being published in the newspaper for many days without him being arrested. Why did the police wait for so long before arresting him if they knew that what he said is a security concern? Also, since Dr. Ceesay made those comments and until his arrest, has there been any breach of the security of the Gambia in between that can be attributed to his comments? What we know so far is that both the police and the government never said anything like that.

Hence citizens must not take this matter lightly or misinterpret it by confusing the general norms and practices of the police with this specific action. Let us remember that not long ago Mama Kandeh was also invited to the police when he said loans received by the government were being distributed among ministers. After that we also know APRC’s Seedy Njie was also questioned for comments that he made. To now see another citizen arrested in like manner must be a concern.

What makes this even more concerning is the fact that for 22 years we went through such experiences in which citizens were ‘invited’ by the police only to end up being detained, tortured and even killed or disappear. Therefore should we not be concerned if the same practice continues today?

Citizens must understand that the State is not a joke. The State is a very powerful tool; in fact the most powerful in any society. Hence matters of the State must generate urgent and high level of concern and scrutiny. The APRC Regime offers us the best lesson from which to learn. Therefore let us not just brush issues aside on the flimsy argument that the police have the authority to invite anyone for questioning as if anyone had said that the police lack such authority. Yes, the police have that authority but they do not have an authority to do it anyhow.

Citizens also have rights that they must enjoy and it is the duty of the State to protect those rights. Let us demand utmost professionalism on the part of our police and adherence to the rule of law. If we merely allow the police to operate anyhow we would end up injuring ourselves sooner than later.

For the Gambia Our Homeland
Momodou Posted - 02 Feb 2018 : 13:13:53
Police clarify Dr Ceesay’s detention

The Point: Friday, February 02, 2018

Superintendent David Kujabi, the public relations officer (PRO) of The Gambia Police Force (GPF) on behalf of the Inspector General has clarified the reason (s) of questioning Dr. Ismala Ceesay, a Political Science lecturer at the University of The Gambia at the Police Headquarters in Banjul on Wednesday.

PRO Kujabi added that there were comments he had made in connection with intelligence that the police were looking into and needed clarifications.

Dr. Ceesay was taken for questioning by the police around 1 p.m., after granting an interview to The Voice Newspaper. The paper carried the story under the headline: ECOMIG WOULDN’T PREVENT LONG TERM SECURITY RISK IF….

In the interview, Dr. Ceesay said that the presence of the regional forces in the country will not prevent long-term security risks if the president does not win the trust of the army.

On Thursday, the university Faculty and Staff Association issued a statement expressing appreciations for the support rendered in ensuring the unconditional release of Dr. Ismaila Ceesay from police custody.

“Dr. Ceesay has been released and all charges dropped and the police promised to issue an apology to the UTG community,” the statement stated.

The statement further pointed out that his release was a victory for “our budding democracy and for academic freedom and freedom of expression which we remain resolute in protecting at all cost.”

“We say Thank you to UTG staff and students for turning up at the station and for adding their voice to the call for Dr. Ceesay’s release. We also extend thanks to friends of UTG both at home and abroad for lending their voice to the crusade. All social media commentators, print and electronic media.”

Dr. Ceesay was interviewed until 22:00 hours when he was granted self-bail which he declined to accept. Meanwhile Dr. Ceesay has been released unconditionally, the police say.

The Office of IGP, however, insists it will carry out its functions whenever it believes under any circumstance that would amount to a threat to national security.

Author: Momodou Jawo

Gov’t reassures right to freedom of expression

The Point: Friday, February 02, 2018

The government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Information Communication and Infrastructure has reassured Gambians and non-Gambians, following the questioning of Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, a Political Science lecturer at the University of The Gambia (UTG); that it upholds the fundamental right to freedom of expression.

Dr. Ceesay was taken for questioning on Wednesday by the police over comments he made in an interview with The Voice. His taken to custody had generated withering criticism and condemnation across the country after he was detained. He was, however, released the next day.

Below is what the government said in connection with his questioning:

“The Government of The Gambia acknowledges that Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, a political science lecturer at the University of The Gambia was invited by the police for questioning on Wednesday, January 31, 2018, over comments in an interview granted to The Voice newspaper issue of the same day.

Dr Ceesay who was subsequently released the same evening following questioning on security related issues he referred to in the newspaper interview preferred to spend the night at the Police Headquarters, insisting that he needed to wait to talk to his lawyer.

While soliciting the understanding of the general public in such matters, the Government wishes to reassure Gambian citizens and non-Gambians resident in the country that their fundamental rights to free expression as enshrined in the Constitution will be respected.”
Momodou Posted - 02 Feb 2018 : 13:10:33
Dr. Ceesay’s detention attracts withering criticism

The Point Editorial: Friday, February 02, 2018

Dr. Ismaila Ceesay’s questioning and detention by and large has attracted withering criticism and condemnation as something unfit in a democratic country like ours.

“I can’t believe I will be up again defending freedom of expression in the New Gambia. Paranoia seems to be taking a toll on someone here. But one thing is certain, a leadership that fears the opinions of its citizens will be doomed to oblivion. We will never give up and we will continue to press hard that button,” writes Gibairu Janneh, a UTG lecturer.

Dr. Ceesay’s detention by police has been condemned by many in the New Gambia as an attack on freedom of expression. In his capacity as political scientist, he made comments as he analysed them in his view concerning ECOMIG, but the police insisted that they only needed clarification.

The police said that they will carry out their functions whenever it believes under any circumstance that would amount to a threat to national security.

Dr. Ceesay, who has been critical of the Barrow administration like any political scientist, was one of the few Gambians who fought against Jammeh’s insistence to cede power by calling on the University of The Gambia lecturers to boycott lectures in demand for Jammeh to leave.

We don’t think the same Dr. Ceesay can revert his position and put Gambia in chaos after he won his fight with dignity and respect. He is a political science lecturer and The Voice Newspaper made no mistake for picking him as their choice to give opinion on the country’s security matters.

Let’s call a spade a spade; where his arrest and detention ordered by President Barrow or just the police trying to make a name for themselves? What is for sure is that it is vehemently wrong to perpetuate arrest or even questioning a university political science lecture for only giving his opinion on the country’s situation in an interview?

The government acknowledged the questioning of Dr. Ceesay, but makes no further comment (s) as whether his detention hampered the freedom of expression in some extend.

“The Government of The Gambia acknowledges that Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, a political science lecturer at the University of The Gambia was invited by the police for questioning on Wednesday, January 31, 2018, over comments in an interview granted to The Voice newspaper issue of the same day.”

Meanwhile, the university Faculty and Staff Association said his release was a victory for the country’s budding democracy and for academic freedom and freedom of expression which “we remain resolute in protecting at all cost.”

“The news of the detention of Dr Ismaila Ceesay by the police is really disturbing! Just within the twinkle of an eye, a government that came to power on the promise of freedom of expression is now exhibiting every sign of intolerance and incapability to uphold liberal values and dissenting opinions,” writes Lamin Jahateh, final year Journalism student, UTG.

“There is nothing more foreign to a civilised and democratic system than preventive detention.”
Momodou Posted - 01 Feb 2018 : 17:47:19
Resolutions of the Civil Society Emergency Meeting on the Arbitrary and Unlawful Arrest and Detention of Dr. Ismaila Ceesay held on 1st February 2018 at TANGO Head Office, Fajara

Following the arrest and detention of Dr. Ismaila Ceesay of the University of the Gambia by the Gambia Police Force on Wednesday 31st January 2018, TANGO convened an emergency meeting of civil society actors on Thursday 1st February 2018 at its headquarters to discuss the need for a concerted effort on the issue.

Noting that The Gambia Constitution under Section 25 guarantees freedom of Expression,

Noting that The Gambia is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights which guarantee freedom of expression under Article 19 and Article 9 respectively,

Noting that the Gambia emerged from 22 years of dictatorship during which freedom of expression, association and assembly were severely curtailed for which scores of Gambians lost lives and property,

Bearing in mind the importance of freedom of expression in the building of democracy and holding the State to account,

Concerned with the increasing incidence of abuse of power and disregard of the rule of law by the new Government in its decisions and actions especially in the appointment of enablers of the former dictatorial regime, the incidence of political patronage and corruption,

Concerned with growing threats to freedom of expression, association and assembly and particularly acts of intimidation directed towards members of the press,

The meeting heard from Dr. Ismaila Ceesay who narrated his ordeal at the police station. He noted that upon a call from ASP Gaye to report to the police headquarters on Wednesday January 31st he ended up being detained for hours and then charged with incitement to violence the same day at night. Dr. Ceesay was informed the next day that the charges were going to be dropped. During his detention Dr. Ceesay was told that the order for his arrest and charges came from ‘Above’. He was interrogated by a group of security officers one who identified himself as ASP Darboe from the Office of the President and then charged by Station Officer Jawara. Following the charges, the police pleaded with him to go home but Dr. Ceesay refused to go until he was informed for the reasons for his arrest. At one point the paramilitary were called to forcefully remove him to no avail. Dr. Ceesay finally left the police station upon arrival of his lawyer who was assured that charges would be dropped.

Upon deliberation of the issues, the members of the civil society have therefore resolved to embark on the following actions,

1. To Issue a press statement to condemn the arrest and detention of Dr. Ceesay,
2. To stage a peaceful protest to defend human rights and democracy in the New Gambia,
3. To seek a meeting with the IGP to discuss the need for the protection of human rights,
4. To demand that the IGP offer a public apology to Dr. Ceesay,
5. To hold a press conference to further popularize these issues with the general public,
6. To sue the IGP for unlawful arrest and detention contrary to Section 19 subsection 6 of the Constitution of the Republic of the Gambia 1997,
7. To urge all Gambian media to report on issues of human rights extensively in line with ECOWAS Human Rights indicators,
8. To petition all international development partners and foreign missions on the state of freedom of expression, association and assembly in the Gambia,
9. To seek an audience with the President of the Republic to express civil society concerns and demands for effective and accountable leadership, promotion of democracy, the protection of human rights and adherence to the rule of law,
10. To seek engagement with the National Assembly to ensure the repeal of anti-democratic laws and the creation of human rights friendly laws,
11. To demand that all officers responsible for the arbitrary and unlawful arrest and detention of Dr. Ismaila Ceesay and any infringements on the rights of citizens to be held to account.

Members of the civil society resolved to strengthen unity and solidarity in order to protect the freedom and democracy that Gambians decided on 1st December 2016

Signed by:
1. TANGO Gambia
2. ActionAid International The Gambia (AAITG)
3. National Youth Council (NYC)
4. Activista
5. Power of Freedom
6. United Purpose
7. UTG Faculty and Staff Association
8. ALELZ Media
9. National Youth Parliament
10. Young Men Christian Association (YMCA)
11. West Network for Peace Building (WANEP) – The Gambia
12. Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations
13. People Democracy Movement (PDM)
14. Gambia Has Decided
15. #OccupyWestfield
16. Democratic Union of Gambian Activists (DUGA)
17. Future in Our Hands The Gambia (FIOH)
18. Gambia Press Union (GPU)
19. Network Against Gender Based Violence (NGBV)
20. Initiative for the Promotion of Democracy and Good Governance (IPDG)
21. United Guardian Youths for Development (UGYD)
22. Net Impact The Gambia
23. Banjul Open Debate
24. Coalition for Change the Gambia (CCG)
25. The Girls Agenda
26. Gambia Watch
27. Young Journalists Association of the Gambia (YJAG)
Momodou Posted - 01 Feb 2018 : 12:28:40
Dr. Ismaila Ceesay has been finally released with all charges dropped. We are all proud of him for refusing to be released last night without the dropping of the charges.
These intimidation tactics must end now. We cannot and must not allow any form of abrogation of rights by this or any other subsequent government. Stay tuned.

Pa Samba Jow
Momodou Posted - 01 Feb 2018 : 12:27:37
Building The New Gambia
By Madi Jobarteh

Trumped Charges Against Dr. Ismaila Ceesay

The Gambia Police Force has charged Dr. Ismaila Ceesay with a 1961 criminal offence of incitement to violence, i.e. Section 59b of the Criminal Code that carries a prison sentence of 3 years. Indeed this is a very sad day for the Gambia and an insult to each and every Gambian. This was one of the colonial laws that Yaya Jammeh had used to arrest, detain, torture and kill Gambians for which Gambians rose up to vote him out after 22 years of brutality.

To now come one year after the restoration of democracy in the Gambia only for the Gambia Police Force to go back to those dictatorial tendencies is indeed frightening. Dr. Ceesay was interviewed by the local media on the first anniversary of the new government. On security issues he expressed concern and advised that the president builds stronger relationship of trust with the Gambian military as the only means to ensure lasting security for the country. How is this statement inciting violence?

According to the Criminal Code, Incitement to Violence means to commit acts that could bring death, injury or damage to an individual or group or community or property. How therefore can a concern and an advice from a university professor cause death and injury or damage to any person or community or property?

This charge shows that once again the Gambia Police has no reason to arrest Dr. Ceesay but that they are fulfilling the whims and caprices of some individuals for their own political objectives. It is unfortunate that therefore that the Gambia Police would accept to abandon professional standards but to allow to be used and misused by other persons for selfish political reasons.

This charge against Ceesay is therefore a charge against all Gambians because once this charge goes ahead it means the Gambia Police can charge any Gambian for even saying oranges are sweet. They can transform such a statement to mean incitement to violence just to close the voices of citizens.

More seriously this charge is a calculated attempt to inject fear in citizens from expressing their views about their president and government. This means the Gambia Police Force is seeking to kill transparency and accountability in the Gambia. When a society and a Government in particular lack transparency and accountability it means there will be blatant abuse of human rights without any redress hence impunity.

Lack of transparency and accountability means there will be corruption and political patronage and no one can do anything about it. So far we have seen so many acts of corruption and political patronage perpetrated by this government. Lack of transparency and accountability means public institutions will not deliver quality public services efficiently to address the needs of the people. Lack of transparency and accountability means justice will not be delivered because judges will not be independent to decide cases based on the law. Lack of transparency and accountability means the ground is set for dictatorship to step in. Hence this action by the Gambia Police is a direct affront to the sovereignty of Gambians and a direct threat to national security.

In the past 22 years this country witnessed several armed attacks and attempted coups and nearly went to a civil war in January 2017 simply because for 22 years we had a government that closed transparency and accountability by subjecting citizens to arbitrary arrest and detention for the opinions they expressed. Through those arbitrary arrest and detention the regime of Yaya Jammeh was able to cause citizens to disappear and to torture and kill many more while they plunder and pillage public wealth with impunity.

This is what the Gambia Police Force want to bring back to the Gambia today in January 2018. Hence the illegal arrest and detention of Dr. Ceesay must be fought against by all Gambians because it is about you also and not only about Dr. Ismaila Ceesay.

For The Gambia Our Homeland
Momodou Posted - 01 Feb 2018 : 12:25:00

For Immediate Release

Banjul, 1 February 2018- IHRDA condemns the unlawful arrest and detention of Political Scientist, Dr Ismaila Ceesay, by The Gambia Police on 31 January 2018 for expressing an opinion on national security, published in The Voice Newspaper.

According the paper, Dr Ceesay had suggested in an interview that it was important for the President of the Republic to win the trust of the local army, in a bid to ensure long-term security in the country, as the presence of regional forces in the country does not necessarily guarantee such security.

We do not think there is any substantive element of this opinion that poses a national security threat or that could lead to destruction or damage to any property, as he was charged with.

IHRDA finds this act of Government in contravention of the rights protected under the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia, such as the right to freedom of expression and the right to personal liberty, which are equally protected under regional and international treaties to which The Gambia is a party.

We wish to remind Government of The Gambia of its human rights obligations and commitments, which have recently been reiterated by H.E. President Adama Barrow, notably during the opening of the 61st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on 1 November 2017, and at the award of his honorary doctorate of Laws and Human Rights by The University of The Gambia on 15 January 2018.

IHRDA therefore calls on Government of The Gambia to respect its human rights obligations, and to continue taking steps towards upholding democratic values in the New Gambia.
Momodou Posted - 01 Feb 2018 : 12:23:37
UTG Faculty and Staff Association demand release of Dr Ceesay

Foroyaa: February 1, 2018

The following statement was issued by the University of The Gambia Faculty and Staff Association:

Following the arbitrary arrest of Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, Political Science lecturer UTG and President of the University of the Gambia Faculty and Staff Association (UTGFSA), over an article published in a local newspaper, the entire UTG community under the umbrella of the UTGFSA strongly condemn the said arrest as a blatant affront on his civic right and a threat to academic and freedom of expression in the country. The change that Gambians envisaged in December 2016, is a nation where citizens can express their opinion on national issues such as development, education, security, and democracy without fear of harassment from anyone. The Gambian people did not sacrifice their lives for a change of face in the December 2016 Presidential Election but a change that guarantees all and sundry to enjoy their rights and liberty in their country with dignity. Therefore, the arrest of our colleague, Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, is a violation of his constitutional right to freedom of expression and an attempt of provocation on the resolve of UTGFASA to protect its members’ rights at all costs. As academics and citizens of the Gambia, we will not sit by and watch the security personnel or anybody else trample on our rights with impunity. We therefore demand the immediate and unconditional release of Dr. Ceesay.

If the authorities fail to unconditionally release Dr. Ceesay, the UTGFSA executive hereby calls on all her members to sit at home and refrain from taking part in all university functions and activities including orientation ceremonies starting from Thursday 1st February, 2017. However, the UTGFSA executive will use all available means to secure Dr. Ceesay’s release. The executive shall inform members through the UTG platform as to what our next move is.

Police questions, detains Dr Ismaila Ceesay

The Point: Thursday, February 01, 2018

Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, a Political Science lecturer at the University of The Gambia (UTG) has been invited for questioning by officers of the Gambia Police Force (GPF), at the Police Headquarters in Banjul.

The Point has been reliably informed that he was detained.

Dr. Ceesay, who had been viewed by Senior Management of the University of The Gambia as the most radical lecturer after leading a last year’s sit-down-strike was invited for questioning yesterday by the police around 1 p.m., after granting an interview to The Voice Newspaper, sources said.

Those working for the medium believed that the headline of the story: ECOMIG WOULDN’T PREVENT LONG TERM SECURITY RISK IF…, - could be the thing that triggered his questioning and detention.

In the interview, Dr. Ceesay further said that: “that the presence of the regional forces in the country will not prevent long-term security risks if the president does not win the trust of the army.”

He added: “Many Gambians do not understand the army during Jammeh’s era. I can tell you that over 75% of Gambia’s military men will not die for Jammeh. They just don’t have a choice. It was not just the army that was following Jammeh. What about the ministers who were around him? So many people thought that the whole army was loyal to Jammeh but soldiers will tell you that Jammeh had more sophisticated weapons at State House than all other camps put together.”

Dr. Ceesay’s questioning by police attracted string of condemnations on the social media within and outside the country.

His detention has been widely viewed as a sign of dictatorship in the making.

Many believed that Dr. Ceesay, being an outspoken critic of the Barrow administration could also be another factor.

Author: Momodou Jawo

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