Gambia: IFJ Calls On Ecowas and African Union to Address Security of Journalists

press release

Photo: AllAfrica
Journalists at work.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today has called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) to mobilize and address the security of journalists after the arrests and detention in communicado of a journalist in The Gambia.

"Authorities in The Gambia must reveal the whereabouts of journalist Abdoulie John and release him immediately. This journalist was literally kidnapped yesterday by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). He is in grave danger since he has been undertaking never ending questionings at the NIA all these last two weeks. This is another press freedom violation in a country where independent reporting is a crime since president Yaya Jammeh came to power. ECOWAS and African Union must not allow this umpteenth treachery," said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa Director.

According to Gambian Press Union (GPU), an IFJ affiliate, journalist Abdoulie John, editor of an online newspaper, Joloff News, and Associated Press's stringer in The Gambia has been arrested on Monday 7th January 2013 by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). John was earlier in the day summoned and accompanied by a GPU official to the NIA office to report as required by the bail and the security forces.

After a while at the NIA, Abdoulie John was taken to his house at the outskirts of the capital city of Banjul where a search was conducted, afterwards the officials of the NIA went away with him on board a pickup car and since then he has not returned home.

"This is more than a human right violation, more than a moral torture of a journalist who has only done his job in due respect of all protocols. We support our colleague and will hold authorities in The Gambia responsible for anything that would happen to him," added Baglo.

Abdoulie John was arrested for the first the time on Sunday 9 December 2012 by security forces on the order of the NIA after a confrontation with President Yaya Jammeh's personal photographer, Sulaylan Gassama who reportedly insisted on knowing who had invited John to the ceremony.

The incident took place in the Gambian village of Tambakunda where John was covering the handing over of eight Senegalese soldiers released after a 14-month detention by the rebels in the South Casamance region. The NIA Director ordered security forces to arrest the journalist who was later released on bail of 1500 US dollars on December 10 and asked to report to the NIA every week.

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