Gambia: GPU SG Appears Before TRRC

Saikou Jammeh, the secretary general of The Gambia Press Union (GPU), yesterday appeared before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), chaired by Dr. Lamin J. Sise to give account of series of human rights violations; such as death and disappearance of journalists under Ex-president Yahya Jammeh.

Mr. Jammeh told the Commission that Ex-president Yahya Jammeh and the media fraternity were in constant loggerheads from 1994 to January 2017.

Saikou Jammeh was born on 2 August, 1985 and started his career as a journalist in 2001 and had worked with The Gambia Daily, The Standard Newspaper, Daily News and host of other newspapers.

The GPU SG gave a detailed analysis of the history and evolution of Gambia Press Union, dating back to the 1930s and when it was first registered in 1979.

He told the Commission that the GPU was involved in the capacity building of its members, adding that it focuses on labour rights and advocacy of its members.

He described the GPU as the only man left standing in the Jammeh's regime and cited instances where GPU stood for journalists who had issues with the Jammeh's regime.

He revealed that from July 1994 to January 2017, it was challenging for journalists in The Gambia, adding that The Gambia was ranked above Equatorial Guinea and Eritrea in terms of press freedom.

Mr. Jammeh said that Yahya Jammeh established tactics to suppress dissents, keep Gambians in the dark, called journalists derogatory names and even threatened them. He told the Commission that Yahya Jammeh was no respecter of a journalist and he waged a war against journalists and he used the courts to get journalists where he wanted them.

The witness further told the Commission that Jammeh became violent against journalists, citing instances where journalists and media houses were attacked.

He mentioned the killing of Deyda Hydara in December, 2004, the killing of Omar Barrow, a reporter with Sud FM Radio Station and a Red Cross Volunteer in 2000 April Student protest.

He revealed that Deyda Hydara was killed two days after he made pronouncement that he was going to challenge the increment in the bond from D50,000 to D500,000.

He told the Commission that Sana Manjang and Kawsu Camara were named as prime suspects for the killing of Deyda Hydara, adding that the ECOWAS Court of Justice ordered Jammeh government to pay the sum of $50,000 and investigate the death of Deyda Hydara properly which it's refused.

He revealed that GPU instituted a suit against Jammeh government before the ECOWAS Court of Justice on the disappearance of Late Chief Ebrima Manneh. He explained that Pa Malick Faye and the late Sarja Taal former managing directors of Daily Observer were allegedly involved in Chief Manneh imbroglio.

Mr. Jammeh told the Commission that Jammeh government had always given inconsistent and conflicting stories about what happened to Chief Ebrima Manneh.

He further told the Commission that the ECOWAS Court of Justice ordered Jammeh government to pay the sum of $100.000 to the family of Chief Ebrima Manneh.

He disclosed that four journalists were arrested in connection with the Freedom online Newspaper saga.

He revealed the ordeal of Dodou Sanneh, a journalist who eventually died after he was paralysed as a result of the torture meted on him.

He told the Commission the arrest and detention and subsequent trial of Lamin Fatty who was convicted and fined D50,000 by the then trial Magistrate Buba Jawo.

The GPU SG told the Commission the arrest and detention of Abdoulie Ceesay of Terranga FM Station, the arrest and trial of Alagie Jobe, deputy editor-in-chief of Daily Observer, the arrest and detention of Omar Bah, journalist working for the Daily Observer Newspaper Company.

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