Gambia court frees 11 protesters on bail

Lawyer Darboe

Bailed leader of the United Democratic Party, Ousainou Darboe

Gambia’s Appeal Court has this morning freed on bail 11 opposition supporters who were arrested for holding an unauthorized protest on April 14.

This follows the release of country’s opposition leaders, Ousainou Darboe, who was freed on bail on December 5, after which another 11 people were freed on bail the following day.

Following a decision by the Appeal Court this morning to release the 11 people for participating in a peaceful gathering in April, Sabrina Mahtani, Amnesty International’s West Africa Researcher said:

“The release on bail of these 11 individuals means that all those arrested in April and May’s peaceful protests are now free and able to return home to their families – which is exactly where they should be as they committed no crime. This is another step forward for justice, and we hope they will all be acquitted in the very near future.”

So far, 42 people arrested during a crackdown on peaceful protests in April and May have been freed on bail this week, following the presidential election on 1 December.

On Monday, 19 opposition members, including UDP leader Ousainou Darboe, were freed on bail pending appeal.

They had previously been sentenced to three years of imprisonment for their participation in a peaceful protest on 16 April.

On Tuesday, 12 people were released on bail by the High Court following their arrest and detention for involvement in peaceful protests on 9 May.

The 11 people released today had been arrested for their participation in peaceful protests for electoral reform on 14 April.

One man arrested with them, Solo Sandeng, has died in state custody.

In July the 11 individuals were convicted and sentenced to three years of imprisonment.

President-elect Adama Barrow has promised to free all political prisoners, as well as repeal Gambia’s repressive laws and re-join the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

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