The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today warned that the
continuing crisis for independent journalism in The Gambia adds to the
uncertainty facing one of the country's journalists who is detained in Israel.
The IFJ says immigration authorities in Israel should urgently review
the detention order against Bubacar
Ceesay, who claimed asylum when he entered the country without travel documents
last year but has been in detention ever since.
"The brutal repression of journalists in The Gambia is well
documented and includes a travel ban," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.
"This journalist has experienced enough suffering and the uncertainty over his
future adds to his fears. His case merits special consideration on humanitarian
Ceesay says he was arrested and tortured in The Gambia after he had
published a story on corruption in the Independent
newspaper. He fled the country and arrived in Israel where he was detained
when he failed to provide a passport or any identity documents. The journalist
is challenging his detention with the backing of the National Federation of
Israeli Journalists (NFIJ), an IFJ affiliate.
In May, a court in Tel Aviv ordered his release pending a decision on
his application for refugee status but last week immigration authorities won an
appeal against the decision and he remains in prison.
The IFJ says Gambia's terrible record on press freedom includes evidence
of abductions, illegal detention and impunity in the killing of journalists. A
prominent journalist, Deyda Hydara, founder and editor in chief
of the newspaper The Point was killed
in 2004, allegedly by the country's secret services. His murder remains
year, President Yahya Jammeh reacted to calls for justice
Hydara by threatening to kill journalists who defy his rule.
Seven journalists' leaders were arrested and charged with sedition and
defamation in June. Six of them were sentenced to a two year jail term before their
release by presidential pardon in August, following a global campaign by trade
unions, human rights and press freedom organisations led by the IFJ and the Gambian
Press Union GPU, the IFJ affiliate in The Gambia.
Meanwhile, the court of the Economic Community of West Africa States
(ECOWAS) has ordered Gambia to release Chief Ebrima Manneh, a reporter with the Daily
Observer, who disappeared in 2006.
"The Gambian regime's record on press freedom should be enough to provide
prima facie evidence of why journalists
seek protection abroad," added White." We commend the solidarity shown by our
Israeli colleagues in this case and urge the authorities to release the
journalist and offer him protection."
For more information contact the IFJ at
+32 235 2207
The IFJ represents over
600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide