The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the pressure and attacks on media in The Gambia which have been on the rise despite a three-year international campaign for press freedom, journalist safety and justice in the killing of prominent journalist Deyda Hydara.
“We are deeply upset that President Yahya Jammeh has learned nothing from the killing of Deyda,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa office. “The international mobilization to bring Deyda’s killer to justice unfortunately has not stopped attacks on press freedom.”
In 2007, three journalists, Yaya Dampha, Modou Lamin Jaiteh and Sheriff Bojang Jr, fled the country due to fears for their safety. At least three others were detained by authorities who were upset over their work. All three were later released.
Two journalists face “long and senseless” trials on charges stemming from articles they published that were critical of the government. Fatou Jaw Manneh, a US-based Gambian journalist, has been kept in Banjul on trial for sedition since April this year.
The other journalist, Lamin Fatty, spent two months in jail in 2006 and has been on trial since June of that year for allegedly publishing “false information”.
“These endless trials are the new tactic used by the Gambian authorities to intimidate and break down the morale of our colleagues,” said Gabriel Baglo.
Another journalist, Chief Ebrima Manneh, has been missing since July 2006. Sources told the IFJ that he was killed in jail this year.
Two days before the third anniversary of the brutal murder of Deyda Hydara, who has become the symbol of the lack of press freedom in The Gambia, the IFJ called on President Jammeh regime’s to put an end to its “unrestrained media repression”.
The IFJ also called for an independent investigation into Hydara’s killing.
Hydara, the editor and co-proprietor of the private newspaper The Point, was shot dead on 16 December 2004 while he was dropping off two of his colleagues. He was also the AFP correspondent in The Gambia and was very critical of the government’s repressive media laws, most especially the Media Commission Bill, which he and some of his colleagues challenged in court.
For more information contact the IFJ at + 221 33 842 01 43
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide