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The Gambia: UPDATE- Human rights defenders Dr. Isatou Touray and Ms Amie Bojang Sissoho released on bail
Human rights defenders Dr. Isatou Touray and Ms Amie Bojang Sissoho have been released on bail following a court hearing at Banjul Magistrates Court on 20 October 2010. The terms of the bail included the payment of 1.5million Dalasi (€36,000) for Dr Touray and 1million 500 Dalasi for Ms Bojang Sissoho, as well as a surety with a landed property. Both human rights defenders are due to appear before the court on 3 November 2010.
Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang-Sissoho are facing charges for theft, for the alleged embezzlement of €30,000 of GAMCOTRAP funding. In May 2010, the Office of the President set up a commission of inquiry to investigate GAMCOTRAP's use of its funding. The Commission concluded that the allegation of misappropriation of funds were unfounded. However, shortly after publication of the findings, members of the commission were allegedly dismissed and a second commission of inquiry was set up and has yet to present its conclusions.
Dr Isatou Touray is the executive director of The Gambia Committee on traditional practices affecting the health of women and children (GAMCOTRAP), an organisation working in the area of sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and children. Amie Bojang-Sissoho is the programme coordinator of GAMCOTRAP. The Government’s animosity towards organisations working in the area of women's rights, and in particular female genital mutilation (FGM), was made clear in 1999 when the President publicly stated that he could not guarantee the safety of activists who campaign against FGM.
Front Line in pleased that Dr Isatou Touray and Ms Amie Bojang-Sissoho have been released on bail, despite the exorbitant amount at which it was set. Front line calls on the Gambian authorities to ensure that both human rights defenders receive a fair trial as stipulated under international law.