The United States is deeply concerned by the death of Gambian opposition member Ibrima Solo Krummah, who reportedly died on August 20 while in government custody. He died in a hospital following an operation that was not authorized by his family.
Mr. Krummah was arrested along with 14 others on May 9 for taking part in demonstrations against the arrests of opposition leaders and the alleged torture and death in custody of the UDP, or United Democratic Party’s secretary, Solo Sandeng, who had helped organize earlier protests. The UDP, however, claims Krummah did not participate in any of the demonstrations.
Approximately 50 protesters were reportedly arrested in April and May, including UDP Party leader Ousainu Darboe and at least 18 other senior party members. Thirty opposition supporters were convicted in July, receiving three-year prison sentences. Activists and opposition members have been demanding reforms before December elections. Gambian president Yahya Jammeh has ruled the nation since 1994 when he seized power in a coup.
State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said, the United States “remain(s) troubled by reports of the Gambian government’s continued mistreatment of detained opposition figures, as evidenced by recent deaths and allegations of torture.”
The United States calls for an independent investigation of all credible allegations of torture and abuse and for the Gambian government to provide for the humane treatment of all prisoners.
It is incumbent on the government of Gambia to immediately release all political prisoners, including those individuals sentenced in July and others arrested during the April and May demonstrations. The United States urges the government of The Gambia to cease its sustained crackdown on political opposition members and supporters and to respect the rights of all citizens to freedoms of expression and association without fear of retribution.