Gambian journo sues govt for torture

2010-06-04 08:19

Abuja - A Gambian journalist on Thursday asked a regional court to order his government to pay him $2m in damages for alleged torture over a story on a botched coup in 2006.

US-exiled Musa Saidykhan told the Abuja-based Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) court that the government of President Yahya Jammeh had violated his right to personal liberty and dignity.

"I'm seeking monetary compensation to the tune of $2m from the Gambian government for illegal detention, trial and torture," he said.

Saidykhan, former editor of The Independent, was detained after his paper published names of suspected putsches arrested following the March 2006 aborted coup. He was freed without charge some three weeks later.

Saidykhan claimed he was handcuffed, stripped naked and had electric shocks administered to his genitals during a 22-day ordeal in the hands of Gambian security agents.

"As I speak right now, I have problem with my health and manhood," he told the court which will resume hearing on July 8.

Gambia is often criticised for its dismal human rights records.

Journalists are routinely harassed and many independent reporters have faced court action for sedition or giving false information, according to Amnesty International which says some 29 journalists have fled the country since 1994.

In December 2004 Deyda Hydara, the editor of independent newspaper The Point and an Agence France-Presse (AFP) correspondent was gunned down by unidentified gunmen in his car and six other journalists have disappeared.

Global media watchdogs rank the tiny west African country of 1.5 million people low on the media freedom rankings.