Amadou Scattred Janneh

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Amadou Scattred Janneh
Born 17 September 1962
Gunjur village, Kombo South, the Gambia
Nationality Gambian
Occupation politician, academic
Known for former Minister of Information, treason conviction

Amadou Scattred Janneh (born 17 September 1963[1]) is a Gambian politician with Gambian and American dual citizenship.[1] A former Minister of Information and Communication for the national government, he was sentenced to life in prison for treason after distributing T-shirts with the slogan "End to Dictatorship Now".[2] After international protest from organizations including Amnesty International and an appeal by US activist Jesse Jackson, Janneh was pardoned and returned to the US.[3]

Background[edit]

Janneh was born in Gunjur village in the Kombo South district. At the age of 17, he began working for Radio Gambia. He later traveled to the U.S., earning a PhD in political science in 1990. He then taught for ten years at the University of Tennessee.[4]

Six months after Janneh's 2003 return to the Gambia to work at the U.S. Embassy, President Yahya Jammeh appointed him as Minister for Information and Communications. Janneh was removed from the post in 2005.[4]

Treason conviction[edit]

The T-shirts had been produced by the group Coalition for Change – The Gambia (CCG). Janneh was arrested on 7 June 2011 for distributing them. Three other activists - fellow Gambians Modou Keita and Ebrima Jallow and a Nigerian, Michael Uche Thomas - were arrested the same day.[5] The four were detained at Mile 2 prison. Ndey Tapha Sosseh, a human rights activist, was also charged for her involvement in the T-shirts' printing, but was no longer in the country.[6]

The four detainees were tried in November and December 2011. A number of witnesses testified for the prosecution that they had seen Janneh and the other defendants distributing the T-shirts. Police also presented e-mails in which CCG activists discussed how to change the national government.[7]

On 18 January 2012, the court found Janneh guilty of treason and conspiracy to commit a felony and gave him a life sentence. The judge stated that he would have preferred to give Janneh a death sentence had it been permitted under Gambian law. Janneh, Keita, Jallow, and Thomas were also each sentenced to three years of hard labor for sedition.[3]

The anti-censorship group ARTICLE 19 described itself as "appalled" by the sentences and "deeply concerned by the state of freedom of expression in The Gambia".[8] Amnesty International declared the four men prisoners of conscience and called for their immediate release, stating, "Gambia must stop such acts of persecution and allow criticism to be heard in the country."[5]

Janneh was released in September 2012 following an appeal on his behalf by US activist and politician Jesse Jackson. Janneh returned to the US and stated that he would resume his IT business as well as work on a book.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c George E. Curry (26 September 2012). "Freed through Jesse Jackson's appeal Former Gambian prisoner's fast track to success, imprisonment and freedom". Greene County Democrat. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  2. ^ "Gambia: Free activist jailed for life over anti-government T-shirts". Amnesty International. 23 July 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Life Sentence for Scattred Janneh". The Daily Observer. 18 January 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Janneh Spotted at NIA, COMMIT Resumes Business". Jollof News. 15 June 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "The Gambia must release activists jailed for distributing T-shirts". Amnesty International. 18 January 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "Annual Report 2012: Gambia". Amnesty International. 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2012. 
  7. ^ Sidiq Asemota (15 December 2011). "Gambia: State Closes Prosecution Case in Dr. Janneh & Co Treason Trial". The Daily Observer. Archived at allafrica.com. Retrieved 22 July 2012. 
  8. ^ "Article 19 Frowns at Gambia". Jollof News. 20 January 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2012.