Gambia: Drop charges against human rights defender

In May 2022, the President of Gambia labeled Madi Jobarteh, a human rights advocate, a “troublemaker” for allegedly trying to incite violence in the country. Since that accusation, Jobarteh has faced continuous online threats, harassment, and even illegal surveillance by Gambian officials. They also unfairly arrested and detained him. On November 9, 2023, they formally charged him with several serious offenses, including seditious intent and inciting violence. Amnesty International has raised concerns, suggesting these charges might be politically motivated. They argue that Jobarteh’s actions as a human rights defender are being unjustly targeted, infringing on his rights to speak out and associate freely.

Here’s what you can do:

Write to the President of Gambia urging him to:

  • Immediately drop the unfounded charges against Madi Jobarteh, ensuring he can freely exercise his human rights.
  • Quickly and thoroughly investigate all reports of intimidation, harassment, threats, and attacks on Madi Jobarteh and his family. Ensure this investigation is independent, impartial, transparent, and effective, leading to fair trials for any suspected culprits.
  • Allow Madi Jobarteh to continue his human rights efforts without fear of retaliation. Respect his privacy, including by returning both his and his daughter’s mobile phones.

Write to:

President of Gambia, Adama Barrow

Email: ; ;

X/Twitter: @BarrowPresident

Madi Jobarteh’s Recent Ordeal

Madi Jobarteh, a prominent human rights advocate in Gambia, has been facing severe harassment and intimidation by the local authorities. His troubles began when he was summoned by the police on October 6, 2023, due to illness, he couldn’t attend. That same day, his home was forcefully entered by officers from the intelligence units, who questioned him about his social media activity and demanded he visit the police station once he recovered, a request Jobarteh declined.

The situation escalated when Jobarteh was arrested on October 9, after he publicly condemned the authorities for placing him under illegal surveillance. During his brief detention, only his brother was permitted a short visit. Although he was released on bail on October 15, the authorities kept his and his daughter’s phones, which they have refused to return. On November 9, Jobarteh was charged with serious offenses, including sedition, and his bail was extended. Throughout this period, he and his daughter were deprived of their phones.

International Attention and Previous Encounters

The case has drawn international concern, with UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights seeking explanations from the Gambian government. They’ve raised issues about the validity of Jobarteh’s arrest, detention, and the ongoing surveillance, highlighting the potential intimidation and violation of privacy rights involved. Despite these inquiries, the Gambian authorities have remained unresponsive, also ignoring a similar request made in June 2022.

Jobarteh is no stranger to such confrontations. In June 2020, he was arrested after a Black Lives Matter protest for criticizing the government’s lack of action on police brutality cases. Those charges were eventually dropped, marking another instance where Jobarteh faced legal challenges due to his activism.

Please take action as soon as possible until April 17, 2024! The UA will be duly updated should there be the need for further action.