Torture in  [Gambia]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Gambia]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Gambia]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Gambia]  [other countries]

Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century                                                            

Republic of The Gambia

The Gambia has no confirmed mineral or natural resource deposits and has a limited agricultural base. About 75% of the population depends on crops and livestock for its livelihood. Small-scale manufacturing activity features the processing of peanuts, fish, and hides.

Unemployment and underemployment rates remain extremely high; short-run economic progress depends on sustained bilateral and multilateral aid, on responsible government economic management, on continued technical assistance from the IMF and bilateral donors, and on expected growth in the construction sector.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: Gambia

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in the Gambia.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.

*** ARCHIVES ***

UN: Torture Regular And Prevalent In Gambia

PK Jarju, Jellofnews

[accessed 6 April 2015]

[accessed 24 August 2016]

In his report to the 28th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Special Rapporteur Juan E. Méndez alleges systemic use of torture such as punching, slapping and blows with objects such as canes or batons and burns by the security officers, particularly agents of the feared National Intelligence Agency (NIA) based on witness testimonies and other evidence gathered over the course of a visit to the Gambia from 3 to 7 November 2014.

Mr Mendez added that he “found the testimonies truthful and consistent with other testimonies regarding the practices and methods used and substantiated this with physical evidence presented by a number of cases which were consistent with their testimonies of beatings by fists or blunt instruments and the injuries showed treatment that amounts to torture (or is consistent with allegations of torture).”

He added: “The nature of the torture is brutal and includes very severe beatings with hard objects or electrical wires; electrocution (including to the genital area), asphyxiation by placing a plastic bag over the head and filling it with water, cigarette burns, tying up with ropes, burning with hot liquid and an account by one victim of having to dig his own grave believing he would be buried alive.  These methods of torture generally occurred over a period of days or even weeks, usually either at NIA headquarters or in other unofficial places of detention.”

Gambia must stop wave of homophobic arrests and torture

Amnesty International, 18 November 2014

[accessed 4 December 2014]

Since 7 November, the country’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Presidential Guards have been carrying out a homophobic operation resulting in the arrests of five men, including a 17-year-old boy, and three women.

All those arrested were taken and detained at the NIA headquarters in Banjul, the capital, and were told they were under investigation for “homosexuality” but have not been formally charged. They were subjected to torture and ill-treatment to force them to confess their so called “crimes” and to reveal information about other individuals perceived to be gay or lesbian.

As a means to obtain information the NIA have been using methods such as beatings, sensory deprivation and the threat of rape. The detainees were told that if they did not “confess,” a device would forced into their anus or vagina to “test” their sexual orientation.

U.N. says Gambia blocks investigators probing torture and killings

Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters, Geneva, 7 November 2014

[accessed 29 November 2014]

Gambia has blocked United Nations human rights investigators from completing an investigation into torture and killings during the first ever visit to the West African country by U.N. experts, the world body said on Friday.

Christof Heyns and Juan Méndez, the independent U.N. investigators respectively for illegal killings and for torture, heard many allegations of extrajudicial executions of government opponents, journalists and activists and also of the widespread use of torture during their Nov. 3-7 visit, it said.

Jammeh has in the past drawn international condemnation by subjecting political opponents to torture, forcing them to confess to sedition on television and executing prisoners in 2012. At a U.N. General Assembly, he stirred outrage by attacking gay rights as a threat to humanity.

The veteran investigators, from South Africa and the United States, said they had been forbidden access to the security wing of the Banjul prison where death row prisoners are held.

Gambia postpones UN torture rapporteur visit, puts EU aid at risk

Misha Hussain, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Dakar, 12 Aug 2014

[accessed 12 August 2014]

Gambia has postponed at the last minute a week-long visit by two U.N. experts on torture and extrajudicial killings, a move they said was ‘extremely worrying’ and cast doubt on the  country’s commitment to a better human rights record.

Jammeh has drawn international condemnation by subjecting political opponents to torture, forcing them to confess to sedition on television and executing prisoners in 2012.

“We find it extremely worrying that a major undertaking dealing with issues such as unlawful killings and torture can be cancelled without explanation, just as it is about to start,” the U.N. rapporteurs said in a statement issued by the UN Human Rights Agency (OHCHR) in Geneva.

The state of the world's human rights

Amnesty International AI, Annual Report 2013

[accessed 2 March 2014]


On 3 December, two NIA officers arrested Imam Baba Leigh, a prominent Muslim cleric and human rights activist. Imam Leigh publicly condemned the execution of nine inmates at Mile II prison in August when he called the executions “un-Islamic” and urged the government to return the bodies to the families for proper burial. Subsequently, Imam Leigh was not brought before a court, his detention was not acknowledged by the NIA, and his family and lawyer remained unaware of his fate and whereabouts. As such, he was subjected to enforced disappearance and was at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. At the end of the year, Amnesty International believed he was held by state agents and considered him a prisoner of conscience.


Poor sanitation, illness, lack of medical care, overcrowding, extreme heat and malnutrition plagued Gambia’s prisons. External monitors were not allowed access. Lack of equipment such as fire extinguishers put prisoners’ safety at risk.

Prisoners on death row were not allowed visits by family or friends. Food in prisons was of poor quality but only remand prisoners were allowed food from outside. Rehabilitation programmes were non-existent.

In October, it was reported that four inmates had died from illness, including two death row prisoners, Abba Hydara and Guinea-Bissau national Sulayman Ceesay; further information was not available. According to sources, inmate Amadou Faal, known as Njagga, was severely beaten in October by a prison officer. He suffered the loss of his eye but was denied medical care for several days. The prison officer was not disciplined or charged.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 28 January 2013]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices; however, there were reports that security forces, notably soldiers acting outside official controls, beat persons and mistreated civilians.

The Indemnity Act continued to prevent victims from seeking redress in some cases. The army requested that victims file formal complaints so that cases could be investigated; however, there were no known prosecutions in civil courts of soldiers accused of beating or otherwise mistreating individuals during the year.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 5   Civil Liberties: 4   Status: Partly Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 28 January 2013]

In March 2006, officials announced that they had foiled an attempted coup, leading to the arrest of dozens of people, including senior intelligence and defense personnel. The disappearance of five of the detainees raised concerns about torture.

Impunity for the country’s security forces is a problem. A 1995 decree, still in effect, allows the NIA to “search, arrest, or detain any person, or seize, impound, or search any vessel, equipment, plant, or property without a warrant” in the name of “state security.” In such cases, the right to seek a writ of habeas corpus is suspended. The National Assembly passed a law in 2001 giving amnesty “for any fact, matter or omission to act, or things done or purported to have been done during any unlawful assembly, public disturbance, riotous situation or period of public emergency.” Torture of prisoners, including political prisoners, has been reported.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- The Gambia",, [accessed <date>]



Torture in  [Gambia]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Gambia]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Gambia]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Gambia]  [other countries]