ITF challenges Gambian president over trade unionist’s death in custody

The ITF has demanded justice following the death in custody on 21 February of Sheriff Diba, a leader of the Gambian National Transport Control Association (GNTCA).

Gambian trade unions asked the country’s authorities to lower fuel retail prices in line with the fall in wholesale prices. In response he banned the GNTCA’s activities and arrested several of its leaders. Shockingly, one of them, Sheriff Diba, died in prison, reportedly after receiving brutal treatment at the hands of the National Intelligence Agency.

The ITF has challenged president Yahya Jammeh Babili Mansa to act urgently. It is also preparing a case regarding Sheriff Diba’s death and the government’s punitive measures against the GNTCA for hearing at the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva. And, along with the Syndicat des Travailleurs des Transports Routiers du Sénégal - Forces du Changement (STTRS - FC), it has launched a LabourStart appeal (www.labourstart.org/go/gambia) by which trade unionists internationally can write to the Gambian president demanding an investigation into Sheriff Diba’s death.

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton wrote to the Gambian president: ‘Such harsh reprisals in response to legitimate trade union activity seriously violate fundamental workers’ rights, which…are enshrined in the Conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

‘The ITF and its affiliated unions worldwide strongly condemn the dissolution and prohibition of GNTCA activities, the arbitrary and illegal arrests of its leaders and in particular the death of Sheriff Diba.’

Mr Cotton requested that the president urgently intervenes to ensure that all arbitrary and illegal measures concerning the dissolution of the GNTCA and the prohibition of its activities are lifted; that all legal proceedings against its leaders and members are dropped; and that a national commission of inquiry, including GNTCA members, is established to determine the exact circumstances of Sheriff Diba’s death.

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