Friday, 3 July 2009

NUJ in plea to free Gambian journalists

The NUJ called today for the release of seven journalists held in Gambia, including leaders of the country's journalists' union, who are charged with sedition.
It has joined with Amnesty International and the TUC to hand in a letter of protest at the Gambian High Commission in London.
Last month senior officials in the Gambia Press Union including the vice president Sarata Jabbi-Dibba and the general secretary Emil Touray, along with editors and a reporter from several of the country’s national newspapers were arrested by the National Intelligence Agency and charged with three counts of seditious publication.
The protest letter expresses concern at the increasing deterioration of freedom of expression in Gambia, and demands that the charges against the seven are dropped and the case dismissed.
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “These seven journalists have been locked up and put on trial for writing stories and press releases that would be part of normal democratic debate in most countries of the world.
“The NUJ calls for their immediate and unconditional release and for the government of Gambia to change their media laws to allow genuine freedom of expression.”
Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said: “These seven journalists should not be placed on trial. They are being punished simply for peacefully expressing their opinions. This is a woeful disgrace and the Gambian authorities should immediately call a halt to this trial.
“Amnesty has documented hundreds of cases of journalists being persecuted in Gambia for several years. Those who choose to dare to express their views risk facing an array of abuses, including unlawful arrest, arbitrary detention, and torture.
“We urge the Gambian government to put an end to this trial and to allow all journalists to exercise their rights to freely express their views without fear of reprisal.”

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