Rights groups urge probe into death of Gambia activist

Rights groups urge probe into death of Gambia activist

[JURIST] Several human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy websites] on Monday urged the Gambian government to investigate the death of Solo Sandeng [HRW report], a Gambian human rights activist, who died [JURIST report] on Saturday while in detention for protesting. Calling his death “suspicious” as there have been reports that he was tortured, the rights organizations have asked the Gambian government to “ensure an independent and impartial investigation into Sandeng’s death.” The organizations have also asked for the release of peaceful protestors and a journalist, Alhagie Ceesay, as well as an investigation into the arrests of United Democratic Party party leaders and members such as Ousainu Darboe. Two other party members who were arrested last week have also died in custody under suspicious circumstances.

The treatment of activists has been a constant human rights issue throughout the world. Last month Azeri human rights lawyer and advocate Intigam Aliyev was freed from jail [JURIST report]. Aliyev had been charged with tax evasion, abuse of office and illegal entrepreneurship. Also in March Kuwait’s Supreme Court upheld [JURIST report] the four-year jail sentence against an activist found guilty of insulting judges on Twitter. In February HRW criticized [JURIST report] Omani courts for jailing two online activists over posts they wrote on social media websites. Also in February UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressed concern [JURIST report] over China’s recent crackdown on lawyers and activists. The commissioner stated that civil society workers should be protected by the state, not harassed.