Worrying reports suggest dozens of protesters arrested in Gambia’s capital, Banjul, last month are still in detention and have been tortured, the UN said.
It is very difficult to confirm what is going on in Gambia because of a lack of press freedom in the small West African nation.
Spokesman for the UN human rights commissioner,Rupert Colville, said there were reports that family members were not allowed to visit the prisoners and some were being denied access to medical care.
“The authorities should release those detained,for simply having exercised their rights to freedom of expression, opinion and assembly”, Colville said in a statement.
He also reiterated the UN’s call for an investigation into the reported death in custody on April 14 of Solo Sandeng, head of opposition United Democratic Party’s youth wing – which prompted the protests.
“Two other female opposition figures feared to have died had been found in custody, but were reportedly in very bad condition.The government should also clarify the whereabouts of Alhagie Ceesay, director of the Teranga FM radio on trial for sedition, who was last seen alive on April 11, Colville said.
Gambia, a former British colony nestled within Senegal, is one of the poorest nations in the world and has been ruled with an iron fist by President Yahya Jammeh since he seized power in a coup in 1994.
Human rights groups accuse his regime of disappearances, assassinations, extra-judicial killings and harassment of journalists and activists – claims the government has repeatedly rejected.