NUJ member Alieu Ceesay wins fight to stay in the UK
Alieu Ceesay - © Ruth Johnston
3 August 2011
The NUJ Glasgow Branch is celebrating a second successful campaign to get justice for journalist refugees. Soon after the union helped Charles Atangana achieve refugee status, there was further good news that fellow Glasgow Branch member Alieu Ceesay has also been allowed to stay.
Alieu Ceesay was forced to leave The Gambia in 2006 after being detained, tortured and repeatedly threatened by government agents. He was being accused of passing information to foreign media and institutions deemed to be "enemies of the state".
Alieu was working as a senior journalist and parliamentary reporter in The Gambia before he fled to the UK. With the help of the local NUJ Branch in Glasgow and the support of Amnesty International, he founded the UK Campaign for Human Rights in The Gambia.
Living in Glasgow, Alieu has continued to do voluntary work as a journalist and has researched human rights abuses in his home country. He has organised a series of successful, well-attended events aimed at highlighting the plight of detained journalists in The Gambia as well as wider civil and human rights abuses there.
The NUJ is very pleased that Alieu and his young family are now able to stay in the UK and rebuild their lives in safety.
Alieu Ceesay said:
"I would like to say thank you very much to my union, the NUJ, to other campaign organisations, to Amnesty International, to my lawyer Jamie Kerr and to parliamentarians. I wouldn't have been able to get it done without you!!
"I really appreciate you giving up your time and efforts to help me. I can't thank you enough! Your support won't be forgotten."
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
"The NUJ is immensely proud of the campaigning support colleagues have shown to our refugee members.
"We are all deeply impressed by the courage and determination of Alieu and his family. Alieu's strong trade union convictions and commitment to journalism as a profession is an example to us all. We are pleased he has been granted refugee status and can remain active in our union in the UK."
Jamie Kerr of Drummond Miller LLP, Alieu Ceesay's lawyer, said:
"The success of Alieu's case demonstrates the need for co-operation between legal representatives and civic society more generally. The solidarity shown to Alieu by members of the NUJ Glasgow branch spurred me to fight even harder for him. Together, we ensured that justice prevailed. Alieu is now safe, though we must remember that there are many others here who are not."
John Matthews, Glasgow Branch chair, said:
"Delegates at this year's NUJ delegate meeting got the opportunity to meet Alieu Ceesay and his family and heard Alieu speak about human rights abuses in Gambia as a journalist, Alieu's liberty and life were both under threat and he had to flee.
"In exile, Alieu has continued to campaign against human rights abuses and continued to come under threat.
"Following on from Charles Atangana winning his case, this is our second victory for Glasgow-based asylum-seeking journalists and I am immensely proud of the part played by the NUJ and, in particular, the Glasgow Branch in demonstrating our commitment to justice, human rights and journalism."