Gambian activist sent back to jail

2010-04-08 11:48

Banjul - A Gambian human rights activist accused of lying in a letter written to President Yayha Jammeh was unable to pay his $194 000 bail on Wednesday and sent back to prison.

Edwin Nebolisa Nwakaeme, a programme director at Africa in Democracy and Good Governance (ADG), was jailed after writing to Jammeh asking permission to nominate his daughter as a goodwill ambassador for children's rights day.

Appearing very weak in court on Wednesday, Edwin was escorted back to state central prison after telling the court that he has "nowhere to get a huge amount of five million dalasis ($194000) to secure his bail".

A legal practitioner working with the state said on condition of anonymity that "imposing such a bail bond on Edwin shows that the state is going at all costs to detain him".

Prosecutor Sulayman Kaita said last month that Nwakaeme lied when he described ADG as a non-governmental organisation, "knowing it to be false", without expanding on what the state believed the group to be.

"The information going in and out of the president's office is so sensitive that it has to be the truth and nothing but the truth," Kaita said when Nwakaeme was jailed in March.

On its website, ADG describes itself as an organisation whose main mission is "to engage in matters relating to human rights, democracy and the promotion of good governance in Africa".

Gambia, the smallest country on the African mainland, has been criticised for ignoring human rights and not tolerating criticism or dissent.

In February an envoy for the United Nation's children's agency was given 24 hours to leave the country, with no explanation for her expulsion.