26 October 2012

Gambia: Thugs Threaten to Kill Journalist, What Are Authorities Doing?

press release

Reporters Without Borders is very disturbed by an increase in threats and intimidation attempts against freelance journalist Abubacarr Saidykhan, who - along with Daily News reporter Baboucarr Ceesay, the Gambian Press Union's vice-president - already received death threats by email in October.

After talking to Saidykhan, Reporters Without Borders is amazed that the presence of police who are supposed to protect him has had no deterrent effect on those responsible for the threats, and calls on the authorities to accept that they have a duty to take effective action.

Saidykhan has been under close watch for weeks by unidentified men often stationed outside his home. Two days ago, a car pulled up next to Saidykhan as he was standing at this gate, and one of the four men inside addressed him as follows:

"We told you that we would come for you without any further warning. We have learned that you are a very stubborn journalist. The next time we meet you, your head will be hammered by one of our patriotic killers. Just continue to ignore our warnings."

"The increase in the threats received by Saidykhan is symptomatic of the decline in the situation of the media in Gambia since August," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.

"The boldness of these 'patriotic killers' - supporters of President Yahya Jammeh bent on using death threats to terrorize journalists - is indicative of the impunity and protection they enjoy."

Deloire added: "We call on the authorities, who have been given a description of the vehicle and its licence plate number, to take all necessary stops to identify the passengers. A failure to react would show that these thugs were sent by the government and that Saidykhan is on his own and has no effective protection."

Shortly before he was shot dead in December 2004, Deyda Hydara, the editor of The Point and correspondent of Agence France-Presse and Reporters Without Borders, received similar threats to the ones that Saidykhan has been getting.

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