Gaye Sowe   Executive Director (The Gambia)

gayeGaye has risen from the ranks of Legal Officer, Senior Legal Officer to Director of Programmes, and has spent more than ten years in IHRDA.

Having gathered an incredible wealth of experience in litigation, capacity building and advocacy at domestic and regional levels up his sleeve, Gaye is the resident law reference, especially in common law, constitutional, criminal and non-discrimination law.

Gaye has done trainings and presentations on different areas of international human rights law with judiciary and law enforcement officials, as well as lawyers and human rights activists, in Africa and beyond. He is a member of the ECOSOC working group of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and has made significant contributions in developing the jurisprudence of various African human rights mechanisms.

Gaye was called to the Nigerian and Gambian Bars in October and November 2000 respectively. He worked with the Gambian Judiciary as a Principal Magistrate and Acting Judicial Secretary prior to joining IHRDA. He is adjunct lecturer of Criminal Law at the University of The Gambia and Criminal Procedure at the Gambia Law School. He studied at the University of Essex’s International Human Rights Law programme (LLM), and at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (LLB Honours), as well as at the Nigerian Law School (BL).


Amie Njie – Head of Finance and Administration (The Gambia)

Am20150105_094651ie holds a Master of Science Degree (MSc) in International Accounting and Finance from Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom. She is a dedicated and result-oriented person with a wealth of experience in the Accounting/Auditing profession. Prior to joining the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa in January 2015, she worked with the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority from 1996 and rose through the ranks to the position of Director of Internal Audit.


Eric Bizimana – French Legal Officer (Burundi)
Photos Gambia 078 - Copy

Eric holds an LLB in law (Diplôme de Licence en Droit) from the University of Burundi and an LLM degree in Human Rights and Democratization in Africa from the University of Pretoria. Former teacher of law, advocate within the Burundi Bar Association and collaborator with Avocats Sans Frontières, Eric brings with him an experience in litigation, legal research and drafting legal documents. Prior to joining the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa in February 2015, he was serving as a Legal Assistant at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.


Oludayo Fagbemi- Legal Officer (Nigeria)

OludayoOludayo holds an LLB in Law from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria and a Masters in Public International Law from the University College London. He is a member of the Nigerian Bar.

Oludayo has had stints working with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights (INTERIGHTS). He has also worked in private law practice in Nigeria at the Law offices of Adesanya and Akisanya, and R. A. Ogunwole SAN and Co. Prior to joining the IHRDA in February 2015, he was with the Rivers State Ministry of Justice in Nigeria.

Désiré Bigirimana- Legal Officer (Burundi)

Désiré holds an LL.B from Université Lumière de Bujumbura, a B.A in English Language and Literature from Université du Burundi, a Diploma in French Language from Centre International d’Etudes Pédagogiques in Sèvres (France), a Certificate in African Studies from Arcadia University (USA) and an LL.M from University of Dar es Salaam.  He is a member of Burundi Bar Association.

Désiré served as a Legal Advisor in the Ministry for Local Development in Burundi and as a Legal Assistant at the East African Court of Justice in Arusha/Tanzania. He worked with and trained women’s associations that advocate for women’s rights in Burundi.

Prior to joining IHRDA, Désiré was an Associate at Rubeya and Co-Advocates. He was also serving as an Assistant Lecturer at Université du Burundi, Université Lumière de Bujumbura and Université du Lac Tanganyika. He brings with him an experience in litigation, training and drafting legal documents.

Djeugoue Brice Martial- Publications and Communications Officer (Cameroon)

BriceDjeugoue Brice Matial has a BSc in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Buea in Cameroon. He worked for 9 years as Head of Communications and Programmes at Centre for Assistance to Justice and Animation for Development (CAJAD, Cameroon), before joining IHRDA. He has a wealth of experience in matters of communication and publication within the context of human rights and development.

Fatmata JanganaFinance and Administrative Assitant (The Gambia)

FAtmataFatmata Jangana holds a BSC in Accounting from the North Carolina State University. She’s a seasoned Accountant with experience in both private and public sector accounting. Prior to joining IHRDA, she worked as a Project Accountant at GIEPA and an Auditor at DT Associates.


Modou SoweFinance and Administration Clerk (The Gambia)

MModou Soweodou, the second Mr Sowe at the office, joined us as an intern in July 2009 and became permanent staff in May 2010. Modou handles our day-to-day financial transactions and acts as a liaison with our service providers. He assists the staff with filing and coordinates the  security of IHRDA premises. Modou previously worked at Emkay Stores in 2009.

He studied for his foundational certificate in IT at West African Educational Trust and a certificate and diploma in Infomation Processing at Gambia Techinical Training Institute (GTTI).


Penda SoweReceptionist / Records Clerk (The Gambia)

New PicturePenda  holds  a Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Banking and Finance acquired from the Management and Development Institute (2008-2009); she has a Junior and Senior Secondary School Leaving Certificate acquired from Saint Augustine’s Junior Secondary School (2002- 2005) and Saint Joseph Senior Secondary School (2005-2008). She has the ambition to pursue a Bachelors Degree in Banking and Finance hence, and contribute to the advancement of banking. Prior to this position, Penda served for about 2 years as Finance and Admin Fellow at IHRDA. She likes listening to music, watching TV, going to the beach and spending time with her family.


Cheikh Omar Bassene – Messenger/Cleaner (Senegal)

Cheikh OmarCheikh (fondly pronounced as an elongated ‘sheeeee’), personifies patience at IHRDA. Adept at working the bureaucracy of many offices, Cheikh weathers through the drudgery of long queues and frustration of bureaucracy to ensure IHRDA’s written communications reach appropriate desks in Banjul.

For a first time visitor or new staff, Cheikh’s bright smile and endearing helpfulness will welcome you at Yundum Airport. Together with Fatou and Tamba, Cheikh forms an important part of our institutional memory.Cheikh speaks French, English and some Spanish.


Tamba Conteh Office Attendant/Cleaner (The Gambia)

Tamba BojangHaving joined Alpha and Julia in 1997, Tamba is currently the longest serving staff member, even predating the formal founding of IHRDA. Tamba serves as messenger and maintains our alternative power systems, and keeps our documentation centre clean and tidy.

An innovative support staff member, Tamba has been instrumental in the building and follow-up of two of IHRDA’s cases, 249/02 IHRDA (on behalf of Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea) v Guinea and 292/04 IHRDA (on behalf of Esmaila Connateh and 13 others) v Angola. Tamba speaks an astounding 7 languages: English, his native Sarahule, Wollof, Mandinka, Jola, Fula and Bambara.


Sukuta Manneh – Gardener (The Gambia)

Sukuta MannehWithout Sukuta, we would have a backyard instead of a garden.

Sukuta knows his plant varieties by name, sight, texture and optimal seasons and serves as compound overseer. Sukuta has created a more peaceful and fresh surrounding that bring out the unique beauty of nature, and the core essence it plays in human development.

Sukuta worked with Radville Farms for 11 years and studied at General Agriculture at Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI).

Fatou Faye – Cleaner and Cook (The Gambia)

Fatou FayeFatou has been instrumental in keeping IHRDA clean and comfortable. She is the main architect behind one of IHRDA’s most cherished traditions, the 11:00AM break at the Bantaba (traditional Gambian gazebo). Fondly called Aunty Fatou, she keeps a healthy dose of coffee and tea available for staff and visitors at IHRDA.



Current Fellow(s) / Intern(s)

Mokhtar Hareck Beitoura – Legal Fellow (Mauritania)

MoktahtMokhtar is a Mauritanian who grew up in Dakar, Senegal, where he was repatriated to Mauritania in 1989 following a conflict. He is currently a PhD candidate in public law at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar (UCAD), finalizing a thesis on the African human rights system, particularly the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Mokhtar holds a Master’s Degree in Public Law, International Relations, and several other degrees. He has an Advanced Diploma (DEA) in Human and Peace Law from UCAD, DEA in Public Law from the Faculty of Legal and Political Sciences of the UCAD and a Master II in International and Comparative Environmental Law from the University of Limoge in France, (ULIM). He has acquired certificates from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg (IIHR).

Prior to joining IHRDA as a Fellow, Mokhtar had worked on the refugee problem in West Africa at RADDHO and at the WARIPNET Center, West Africa. He was also a trainee at the UNESCO Regional Office in Dakar (BREDA) in the field of human rights education, before joining Amnesty International’s Regional Office where he worked on Human rights education, research and monitoring of issues such as freedom of expression, the problem of slavery in Mauritania and human rights defenders. He also worked on the issue of Boko Haram in Central Africa, mainly in Chad and Cameroon. Mokhtar equally spent some time at the regional office of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, where he further worked on human rights issues, and contributed to analyse and contact partners in the implementation and follow-up of projects on slavery.

Simone Zagbo – Legal Fellow (Cote d’Ivoire)

11188461_768339883287431_4733998732563637040_nSimone holds a Master in Business Law and a Bachelors Degree in Private Law obtained respectively from Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar Senegal and the University of Bouaké (now Université Alassane Ouattara) in Côte d’Ivoire.She held the post of Legal Officer and Manager in a private company in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, before developing passion for International Human Rights Law, which eventually inspired her to take internship at IHRDA. She aspires for a career as a human rights lawyer. Simone is particularly interested in the rights of women and children in conflict and crisis. She loves travelling and learning new cultures.

Agasha Tabaro – Legal Fellow (Uganda)

Agasha TabaroAgasha holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of Pretoria, South Africa and a Master of Laws (LLM) degree in International Law from University College London (UCL). Prior to joining IHRDA, Agasha gained research and advocacy human rights experience at Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET) and Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), both national non-governmental organizations in Kampala, Uganda. Having a keen interest in international justice, she also served as intern in the Chambers of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague and continues to volunteer online with TRIAL International on their Trial Watch Project. Agasha is also knowledgeable in matters of extractives governance and the management of large donor-based development programmes having dealt with the same in Uganda and Tanzania.

She enjoys traveling, photography and yoga.

Sara Pierre – Legal Fellow (Canada)

_MG_1649Sara holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in World Religions from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She has completed two years of study towards her Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) and Bachelor of Civil Law (B.C.L.) at McGill’s bilingual (English and French) Faculty of Law. Sara has a strong interest in restorative justice, as well as advocating for women, children, and minority rights. She has gained legal experience through Pro Bono Students Canada by working as a legal intern at the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), a non-profit organization which defends the civil rights of those who have experienced gender, racial, or religious discrimination and profiling in Montreal. During her time off Sara enjoys travelling, dancing and being a ballet and hip-hop teacher to young children.

Elizabeth Marcotte – Legal Fellow (United States of America)

Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Political Science & International Affairs from the University of New Hampshire. For four and a half years, she worked first as a Program Assistant and then as an Assistant Program Officer for the Africa Program at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington, D.C., where she managed grant-making programs to civil society organizations in Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and The Gambia.

She is currently a Warren B. Rudman Fellow at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, where she has just completed her first year. She is interested in the intersection of social change and legal protections for human rights.

In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys running, reading, and playing with her new puppy, Kona.

Ayuk Bessem-Akung – Publications and Communications Intern (Cameroon)

Bessem pixBessem is a holder of a BSc in journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea, Cameroon. She is passionate about promoting human rights, especially the rights of women and children. Prior to joining the IHRDA team, she worked on a variety of projects with local NGOs in Cameroon. She aspires to pursue a Master’s Degree in Communication, especially in the domain of Development. She loves reading novels, listening to music, watching movies and football.