Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (24 August):
"I am deeply concerned by reports from the Gambia. Opposition politician Ebrima Solo Kurumah is said to have died last Saturday, shortly after undergoing surgery at a hospital to which he had been transferred from prison. He had allegedly earlier been refused medical aid in prison.
Ebrima Solo Kurumah was arrested on 9 May together with 35 other members of the UDP opposition party for reasons unknown. 20 of those arrested were later released. Charges were brought against the other 16, including Kurumah.
In July, 19 other UDP members were sentenced to three years in prison. They had protested in April against the death in police custody of a leading member of the UDP, and had called for electoral reform.
The rights guaranteed by the Gambian constitution, such as freedom of expression and the right of peaceful assembly, must be upheld at all times. The deployment of the security forces against demonstrators must not violate the principle of proportionality.
I call on the Gambian Government to investigate the circumstances leading to the deaths of opposition members Ebrima Solo Kurumah and Solo Sandeng quickly and thoroughly. I equally call on the Gambian Government to investigate the accusations of torture in prisons and to ensure that all prisoners are treated humanely."