The Gambia faces internet shut down

3 Apr
On July 3, the National Assembly in Banjul, the Gambian capital, passed into law an amendment to the Information and Communication Act 2013, imposing stiffer sanctions on persons found guilty of using the internet to spread false news (Photo credit: whurleyvision)

On July 3, the National Assembly in Banjul, the Gambian capital, passed into law an amendment to the Information and Communication Act 2013, imposing stiffer sanctions on persons found guilty of using the internet to spread false news (Photo credit: whurleyvision)

Internet users in the tiny West African state of The Gambia will face an apparent internet shut down for up to a week as the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable goes down. Sources close to the gateway and other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) said internet access will be adversely affected from 2nd to 9th April 2015. While netizens will be severely affected and online communication slowed, service providers and other businesses will have to bear the brunt of it.

“When the internet goes down like this, it affects not only our daily work but also our daily financial transactions,” a cashier at Trust Bank said. “We find ourselves in a sorry state having to turn away our customers by telling them that our connection is down.”

QCell, one of the GSM companies sent this message to its subscribers: “The ACE Cable will be down 2 Apr @11pm to 9 Apr. Limited Internet access will be available via QCell’s back-up link. We apologize for any inconveniences caused.”

In March 2014, the country experienced a 48-hour internet shut down due to “technical problems” according to authorities. However, shortly after the blackout popular chat and call apps, including Viber were blocked in the country.

According to Freedom House’s Internet Freedom report 2014, The Gambia is rank second with Sudan as countries with the most repressive internet restrictions trailing a few points behind Ethiopia, the most repressive country on the continent.

Aminata’s Family to Report ‘Disappearance’ to Police

23 Mar
Aminata Manneh, photo from her Facebook profile

Aminata Manneh, photo from her Facebook profile

Family sources who confirmed Aminata Manneh’s disappearance said they will report the matter to the police on Monday.

“We will report the matter to the police on Monday,” a source told FPI. “We do not know if she has been ‘abducted or gone into hiding’ as being claimed.”

A police spokesperson, ASP David Kujabi, told an FPI editor on Sunday that his office is yet to receive information regarding Aminata’s reported disappearance. Continue reading

Authorities remain silent over disappeared activist

20 Mar

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

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.

The Gambia: Internet Surveillance is an Emerging Problem

11 Feb
“As the report shows, both States and businesses are complicit in communications surveillance,” says Executive Director of APC, Anriette Esterhuysen.

A number of Gambian journalists fleeing persecution have seek refuge in neighbouring Senegal, US and Europe.

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The Arrest and Continued Detention of Alieu Badara Lowe Sickens Me

5 Feb

The Alieu I taught and the Alieu I know is not a danger to anyone; nothing in this world will make me think for a moment that his continued detention can be justified under the circumstance.

In class Lowe appeared shy but will never fail to contribute meaningfully where and when necessary.

In class Alieu Lowe (picture) appeared shy but will never fail to contribute meaningfully where and when necessary.

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THE GAMBIA AT FIFTY: How Far Have We Come?

2 Feb

It was barely a little over a decade after the dust has settled on the war that the winds of change emerged in Africa, writes Demba Kandeh.

Decolonisation in Africa  heightened the aspirations for many. (Photo Credit: Bugbog.com)

Decolonisation in Africa heightened the aspirations of many. (Photo Credit: Bugbog.com)

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ALERT: Daily Observer Editor Sacked, Passport Seized

23 Jan
Last year, journalist Fadera was appointed deputy editor-in-chief of the Daily Observer. (Photo Credit: Fadera/Facebook)
Cropped photo shows journalist Fadera who was appointed deputy editor-in-chief of the Daily Observer last year. (Photo Credit: Fadera/Facebook)

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