ILNews

Indiana lawyer helped reporter win in Africa

Rebecca Berfanger
January 1, 2008
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A case where an African country's government was accused of kidnapping and torturing a journalist was decided on June 5 in favor of the reporter and his family.

Indianapolis attorney Dan Byron assisted the Ghana-based Media Foundation for West Africa, which filed the suit on behalf of Chief Ebrima Manneh.

Byron spent October and November in Africa and has remained in touch with the foundation's attorneys since then.

In what Byron called a "good day for human rights and press rights in West Africa" and "a solid win," this ruling marks the first such case to be heard by the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja, Nigeria.

"The regime of President Yahya Jammeh consistently denied any knowledge of the whereabouts of the journalist, and has demonstrated gross disrespect for the ECOWAS court by refusing to cooperate throughout the proceedings," according to a release from the Media Foundation of West Africa.

The decision announced that Manneh's arrest and detention was illegal, and ordered Gambian authorities to release him. The court also awarded a total of $100,000 (U.S.) in damages to Manneh, to be paid by The Gambia government.

"Media Foundation for West Africa welcomes this decision by the ECOWAS court. We therefore call on The Gambia to respect and enforce the judgment in accordance with laid down procedures," the release stated.

Indiana Lawyer first reported about Byron's involvement with the West Africa Media Foundation in the Dec. 12-23, 2007, edition, "Advancing press freedoms."
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  3. This is happening so much. Even in 2016.2017. I hope the father sue for civil rights violation. I hope he sue as more are doing and even without a lawyer as pro-se, he got a good one here. God bless him.

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  5. I whole-heartedly agree with Doug Church's comment, above. Indiana lawyers were especially fortunate to benefit from Tom Pyrz' leadership and foresight at a time when there has been unprecedented change in the legal profession. Consider how dramatically computer technology and its role in the practice of law have changed over the last 25 years. The impact of the great recession of 2008 dramatically changed the composition and structure of law firms across the country. Economic pressures altered what had long been a routine, robust annual recruitment process for law students and recent law school graduates. That has, in turn, impacted law school enrollment across the country, placing upward pressure on law school tuition. The internet continues to drive significant changes in the provision of legal services in both public and private sectors. The ISBA has worked to make quality legal representation accessible and affordable for all who need it and to raise general public understanding of Indiana laws and procedures. How difficult it would have been to tackle each of these issues without Tom's leadership. Tom has set the tone for positive change at the ISBA to meet the evolving practice needs of lawyers of all backgrounds and ages. He has led the organization with vision, patience, flexibility, commitment, thoughtfulness & even humor. He will, indeed, be a tough act to follow. Thank you, Tom, for all you've done and all the energy you've invested in making the ISBA an excellent, progressive, highly responsive, all-inclusive, respectful & respected professional association during his tenure there.

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