The United Kingdom urged the Gambia on Monday to investigate the whereabouts of an outspoken religious leader who has not been seen by family or friends since his arrest more than four months ago.
Imam Baba Leigh was detained on December 3 after criticising President Yahya Jammeh’s regime for executing nine death row inmates last year.
“Speaking on behalf of the UK, I urge the government of the Republic of the Gambia to investigate the disappearance of Imam Baba Leigh and to do their utmost to return him, fit and well, to his family, friends and wider community,” David Morley, British ambassador to the Gambia, said in a statement.
The comments came in the wake of the release of the UK’s annual Human Rights and Democracy Report, which singles out the Gambia for its poor record.
“Cases of unlawful detentions, illegal closures of newspapers and radio stations, discrimination towards minority groups and the lack of transparency and due process surrounding the executions of death row prisoners mark a disturbing deterioration in human rights and rule of law in this country over the past 12 months,” the report says.
The European Union and the United States have also spoken out against the cleric’s arrest.
Jammeh provoked an international outcry when he announced in August last year that all of the Gambia’s death row inmates would be executed by mid-September. A week later, a first batch of nine were executed by firing squad.
According to rights groups, close to 40 other prisoners faced death but no further executions were reported.