By Alhagie Jobe
The British ambassador to The Gambia has described the sentences against the opposition United Democratic Party leader Ousainou Darboe and other party members as ‘disproportionate and not in line with internationally acceptable human rights standards’.
Colin Crorkin in a statement issued and posted on the UK government website said the British government is very concerned by the severity of the sentences.
The Ambassador said: “The British Government is concerned by the severity of the sentences in the case of the Gambian UDP (United Democratic Party) leader, Ousainou Darboe, and his supporters. These sentences are disproportionate and not in line with internationally acceptable human rights standards.”
Mr Darboe and 18 others were convicted by Nigerian judge Justice Eunice Dada Oshim on Wednesday, July 20th, after been found guilty of six offences ranging from unlawful assembly, for “riotously interfering with vehicles”, holding a procession without a permit and disobeying an order to disperse among others during the April 16th peaceful demonstration. They were all acquitted of one charge of incitement of violence.
Mr Darboe and Co. were arrested since April 16 in Serrekunda, during a peaceful demonstration calling for the release of party members and produce Solo Sandeng dead or alive.
This verdict was followed by another conviction to three years imprisonment on Thursday, 21st July, of the group of April 14th peaceful protesters by a court in Mansakonko, Lower River Region. The April 14th protesters were arrested along with late Solo Sandeng who died in state custody after staging a peaceful demonstration at Westfield Junction demanding electoral reform.
The Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia, Chapter 4, Section 25, Sub Section 1(D) states that “Every person shall gave the right to freedom of assemble and demonstrate peaceably and without arms.”