UPDATE: Gambia: Yolocamba Director Accused of Rights Violation

Gambia Affairs

Lawyer Amie Bensouda on Thursday accused Madam Begonaballes Teros Sanchez, director of Yolocamba Solidaridad, a Spanish-based NGO, of fundamental rights violation for instigating the prosecution of the two top officials of Gamcotrap, local women's rights NGO. Gamcotrap executive director Dr Isatou Touray and programme coordinator Amie Bojang Sissoho are standing trial at the Banjul Magistrates' Court for allegedly stealing 31, 000 Euros from the Spanish NGO. Update to Gambia: Trial of Dr. Isatou Touray & Amie Bojang-Sissoho adjourned to 22 December

At the resumption of hearing, Madam Begonaballes Teros Sanchez, the director of Yolocamba Solidaridad was accused of violating the fundamental rights of the accused persons by turning a purely civil matter into a criminal one. "I did not accuse anybody of theft. I did not report anybody to the Police and I did not bring them to Court," she said. "We have done six months of negotiations so as to resolve this problem.' "I put it to you that you demanded the said money from Gamcotrap because they disagreed with your request to establish a micro credit finance which resulted to a dispute," lawyer Bensouda inquired. "Not exactly, we exchanged ideas and when they disagreed we demanded the money and there was dispute," said Madam Sanchez.

Lawyer Bensouda drew Madam Sanchez's attention to the European law as how dispute should be resolved through mediation, arbitration or civil litigation, to which Sanchez agreed. "Madam Sanchez, are you aware that this process is meant to punish or imprison the accused persons?" Bensouda quizzed further. "I did not initiate this action, neither to punish the accused, I am here as a witness," replied Madam Sanchez. She dismissed the defense's claim that she has violated the fundamental human rights of the accused by taking this action, when she fully knew that this matter was a purely civil and not criminal matter.

Still under scrutiny, Sanchez described the action taken by her as a 'disgrace' to her organization as well as the people of Madrid due to Gamcotrap's failure to justify the funds being given to them by her organization. She however could not ascertain whether the money was stolen by the accused. She added: " they were supposed to send us invoices after the end of the final project but they failed to do so," said madam Sanchez as counsel gave her exhibit {D2}. Hearing resumes February 16.

Author: Baba Sillah

11 February 2011