The International Federation of Journalists today called on governmental authorities to investigate and explain a series of violent attacks on a private newspaper in the Gambia.
On 17 October, three unidentified men set fire to the premises of The Independent newspaper located in the capital, Banjul. The security guard on duty was hit by a gas canister spray and was smacked in the face with an iron rod. Although, there was not much collateral damage to the equipment, the electrical system was completely destroyed. The paper has been forced to find alternative means to produce the next issue.
“This kind of targeted attacks on independent media reveals a sinister attempt to silence independent voices in this country,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “The increased level of violence raises very serious concerns about the safety of journalists, and the role of local authorities in safeguarding journalists’ rights.”
A few weeks ago, the National Intelligence Agency arrested and detained the paper’s editor-in-chief Abdoulaye Sey for three days. Sey’s arrest was preceded by death threats by telephone both to him and the managing editor. There was also a visit to the paper by a group of heavily armed soldiers.
“In the context of this last attack, the role of the police remains unclear,” said Demba Jawo, President of the Gambian Union. “While they were notified of the crime at the very beginning, they never visited the scene to see the damage or collect some possible evidence for use against the culprits,” he said.
The IFJ is calling on the Gambian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into this case and bring an end to the harassment of independent media.
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries