Friday 7 August 2009

Outrage as Gambian journalists are jailed

Reporters Without Borders said it is appalled by the two-year jail sentences passed on six journalists in Gambia, all leading members of the Gambia Press Union, for alleged sedition and defamation of the government.
“We will soon run out of words to express our outrage at President Yahya Jammeh’s government and its behaviour towards journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Is it a crime to express an opinion and ask government officials to explain their actions? Appealing for what is regarded as transparency in other countries is a crime punishable by imprisonment in Gambia.”
The six imprisoned journalists are: Sarata Jabbi-Dibba, Gambia Press Union vice-president Emil Touray, GPU secretary-general Pa Modou Fall, GPU treasurer Pap Saine, publisher of the independent newspaper The Point, Ebrima Sawaneh, The Point editor Sam Sarr, editor of the opposition newspaper Foroyaa.
They were charged in mid-June after issuing a joint statement appealing to President Jammeh to recognise his government’s responsibility in the 2004 murder of leading Gambian journalist Deyda Hydara.
According to AFP, Jammeh, who has ruled the west African country since taking power in a coup in 1994, warned journalists last month against "tarnishing" Gambia's image.
"Any journalist who thinks that he or she can write whatever he or she wants and go free, is making a big mistake", Jammeh told state-owned GRTS television.
"If anybody is caught, he will be severely dealt with," Jammeh added.

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