26 October 2012

Gambia: MTWA Welcomes Decision to Drop Charges Against Two Journalists

press release

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has welcomed the move by the Gambian authorities to drop charges against two journalists, who were arrested on September 6, 2012 for seeking permission to peacefully protest the execution of nine death row in-mates on the orders of President Yayha Jammeh.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has welcomed the move by the Gambian authorities to drop charges against two journalists, who were arrested on September 6, 2012 for seeking permission to peacefully protest the execution of nine death row in-mates on the orders of President Yayha Jammeh.

The two Journalists, Baboucarr Ceesay, the first vice president of the Gambian Press Union and Abubacarr Saidykhan, a freelance journalist were charged for "conspiracy to commit felony, seditious publication and incitement to violence" following their request to peacefully demonstrate.

The decision to drop the charges was announced on October 23, 2012 by Lamin Jobarteh, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, during a meeting with some senior legal and security officials and the two journalists at the Attorney General's Chambers in Banjul, the capital.

"Both of you must understand that this Country belongs to all of us and we must uphold the peace and security of this country. I cannot just understand why you prefer to demonstrate peacefully after knowing the repercussions of a peaceful demonstration," Jobarteh cautioned.

While we welcome the decision to drop the charges and the attention given to earlier protest statements, we call on the Gambian Police Service to swiftly investigate a death threat against the two journalists.

Barely a day after their charges were dropped, the two journalists received a death threat from an unknown assailant via their email addresses.

"You are stubborn guys who want to destroy the image of the APRC Government and our affectionate President Yahya Jammeh. You think that you can apply for permit to bring the Tunisian, Egypt, Algeria, Syria and Libya situation here. I will come with my team of patriotic killers who kill you for the love of our country and our president ... I have stepped in voluntarily to kill all of you and if you deny this just ignore my warning," a part of the note read.

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