Authorities in the tiny West African state of The Gambia remain mute more than twenty four hours since the “disappearance” of child rights activist. Aminata Manneh went missing just hours after her video of a police officer beating a school child went viral online. Sources close to Aminata’s family say that she received threats relating to the video on both her cell phone and via Facebook, where she posted the video.
Aminata Manneh, photo from her Facebook profile
In a post accompanying the video, Aminata asked: “Since when does a traffic police officer have the right to lay hands on a young school girl cuz they were fighting?” She further added: “What has become of our authorities?”
According to reports, after the video went viral, Aminata received calls from security agents and also messages on Facebook demanding to meet her urgently. “That was the last time the family and friends have seen or heard of Aminata. All efforts were made to contact and locate her with no success. The family repeatedly calls her mobile phone, which appears to be completely switched off since the last time they heard from her. The family is very desperate and worried about her whereabouts and do not know where to go in order to locate their daughter.”
The Gambia is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child (UNCRC) among other international human rights instruments but its government is heavily criticised for lack of respect for fundamental human rights. The UNCRC states that all state parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.
Aminata Manneh, a 3rd year student of the University of The Gambia is a gender activist and an intern at the American Corner Banjul.
On Monday while on her way to work, she came across a highly disturbing scene of a Gambian police officer repeatedly beating a young girl of about 10 years of age with a long cane. She couldn’t bear it and started taking video of the horrible incident, which she shared with her over 4500 followers on Facebook with the caption” This is a total child right’s violation. Since when does a traffic police officer have a right to lay a hand of a young schoolgirl? What has become of our authorities?”
The video went viral and attracted lot of comments from people who feels equally shocked with the police officer’s behaviour and heartlessness towards a defenseless child. Jeffrey Smith, an advocacy officer and Human Rights Manager at Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice & human rights in New York twitted’’ Just saw a highly disturbing video of a Gambia police officer beating a young school girl in broad daylight. Sadly not an uncommon episode’’.
The family is appealing to the authorities and everyone to gets any information on Aminata to come contact in order to reunite her with the worried family.