147/95-149/96 Sir Dawda K. Jawara / Gambia (The)
Summary of Facts
Communication 147/95
1. The Complainant is the former Head of State of the Republic of The Gambia. He alleges that after the
Military coup of July 1994, that overthrew his government, there has been "blatant abuse of power by ... the
military junta". The military government is alleged to have initiated a reign of terror, intimidation and
arbitrary detention.
2. The Complainant further alleges the abolition of the Bill of Rights as contained in the 1970 Gambian
Constitution by Military Decree No. 30/31, ousting the competence of the courts to examine or question the
validity of any such decree.
3. The communication alleges the banning of political parties and of ministers of the former civilian
government from taking part in any political activity. The communication alleges restrictions on freedom of
expression, movement and religion. These restrictions were manifested, according to the complainant, by
the arrest and detention of people without charge, kidnappings, torture and the burning of a mosque.
4. He further alleges that two former Ministers of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC)
were killed by the regime, asserting that the restoration of the death penalty through Decree No. 52 means,
"the arsenal of the AFPRC is now complete".
5. He also alleges that not less than fifty soldiers were killed in cold blood and buried in mass graves by the
military government during what the Complainant terms "a staged-managed attempted coup". Several
members of the armed forces were allegedly detained (some for up to six months), without trial, following
the introduction of Decree No. 3 of July 1994. This Decree gives the Minister of Interior the power to detain
and to extend the period of detention ad infinitum. The Decree further prohibits the proceedings of habeas
corpus on any detention issued under it.
6. The Complainant alleges further that Decree No. 45 of June 1995, the National Intelligence Agency (NIA)
Decree empowers the Minister of Interior or his designate to issue search warrants, authorise interference
with correspondence, be it wireless or electronic.
7. Finally, the communication alleges disregard for the judiciary and contempt of court following the
regime's disregard of a court order; the imposition of retroactive legislation following the Economic Crimes
(Specified Offences) Decree of 25th November 1994, thus infringing on the rule and the due process of law.
Communication 149/96
8. Communication 149/96 alleges violation of the right to life, freedom from torture and the right to a fair
trial. The Complainant alleges that not less than fifty soldiers have been summarily executed by the
Gambian military government and buried in mass graves following an alleged attempted coup on 11th
November 1994.
9. The Complainant attaches the names of thirteen of the fifty soldiers alleged to have been killed and
further alleges that a former Finance Minister, Mr Koro Ceesay was killed by the government. He attaches
a document from a former member of the AFPRC, Captain Sadibu Hydara, to support this allegation.
10. He went further to state that a former AFPRC member and former Interior Minister did not die from high
blood pressure as claimed by the government but was tortured to death.
The Government's Response
11. In its submission on the question of admissibility, the government raised the following objections:
12. The first point raised is what the government called lack of 'proofs in support', claiming that a
communication should only be received by the Commission if the individual alleges, 'with proofs in support'
a serious or massive case of violations of human and peoples' rights.
13. The government asserts that the decrees complained of may on their face value be seen to be contrary
to the provisions in the Charter, but claims that they must be "studied and placed in the context of the
changed circumstances in The Gambia". Commenting on the freedom of liberty, the government claimed it
was acting in conformity with laws previously laid down by domestic legislation. The government claims that
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