IFJ Calls on Israel to Review Detention Order against Gambian Journalist

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

unresolved.  Last

year, President Yahya Jammeh reacted to calls for justice

for Deyda

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