The Gambia: Police close down two radio stations and arrest four journalists

Two private radio stations in Gambia, King FM and Home Digital FM, were taken off air on the orders of the Gambian police which raided their studios on Sunday and arrested four journalists amid rising tension in the lead up to Presidential elections.

Protesters take part in a demonstration against Gambian President, in Banjul, Gambia, on December 16, 2019. Credits: Romain CHANSON / AFP.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Gambia Press Union (GPU) condemn this blatant attack on press freedom and demand the immediate release of the arrested journalists and the reopening of both radio stations.

Around a dozen armed personnel of the Gambian police stormed the two media offices and forced their shut down over accusations of spreading "incendiary messages" and "inciting violence". The manager of Home Digital FM,  Pa Modou Bojang, and the director of King FM, Gibbi Jallow, were arrested along with two other journalists.

The GPU claimed that the closure of the radio stations was “arbitrary and unlawful”.

"We demand for their unconditional release and return all the confiscated materials them," the GPU added.

In addition to this incident, the GPU denounced the attack on journalist Sankulleh Janko by a group of protesters while he was covering the demonstrations of the Three Years Jotna Movement, demanding the resignation of President Adama Barrow. His equipment and telephone were violently taken away from him.

"The past 24 hours witnessed the most aggressive attack on press freedom since the new government assumed office in 2017," the GPU said in a press conference held on Monday.

The General Secretary of the IFJ, Anthony Bellanger, said: “These blatant attacks against media freedom and journalists are unacceptable in a democratic society. They also violate  international conventions on freedom of expression and media freedom that the Gambia had signed and ratified. We urge the Gambian government to comply with the international laws and end the crackdown on media.”

For more Information, please contact the IFJ - Africa Office

1st Floor, Maison de la Presse, 5 Rue X Corniche, Medina,

BP 64257, Dakar, Senegal

Tel: +221- 33 867 95 86/87; Fax: +221- 33 827 02