Political Prisoners – Between December 2016 and January 2017, dozens of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience were released, including prisoners of conscience Amadou Sanneh and Ousainou Darboe. On 30 January, President Barrow pardoned Ousainou Darboe and dozens of others arrested for taking part in a peaceful protest in April 2016.
Detention – Prison conditions did not meet international standards due to inadequate sanitation, food and access to medical care. In February, 174 prisoners were released to commemorate 170 Amnesty International Report 2017/18 independence celebrations and a further 84 were released in March in order to reduce prison overcrowding. Legal aid provision was limited, especially outside of the capital, Banjul. New judges were appointed, in order to address the need for a more independent judiciary.
Freedom Of Expression – The government committed to reforming several repressive media laws. A number of journalists returned to the country, having fled into exile due to harassment or threat of imprisonment under the previous government.
On 19 February, a woman was arrested and detained for breach of the peace after she
allegedly insulted President Barrow. She was granted bail on 2 March, and the case was
dismissed by the Brikama Magistrates Court on 3 April.
In November, at a symposium marking the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes
against Journalists, the government announced that it would comply with judgments by the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice on state involvement in human rights violations against three journalists – Deyda Hydara, Chief Ebrima Manneh and Musa Saidykhan. This would include negotiating compensation payments with victims’ families.