Aside

THE GAMBIA ALERT: GPU calls for immediate release of Taranga FM Managing Director

5 Jul

The Gambia Press Union is calling for
the immediate release of the manager
of Teranga FM radio station, Mr Alagie
[Ceesay], who was picked up on the night of Thursday July 2, 2015, at the
premises of Teranga FM.

According to information gathered from
staff and family members, two men
suspected to be state security agents
came for Mr. Sisay shortly after breaking his fast.

A family source said: “We were sitting
in the compound after Iftar. Alagie
Ceesay sent someone to buy Green Tea.
While we were waiting, one of his
friends, Ous Sillah, came to inform him that there were two men looking for
him. So, he left the compound to attend
to them, but he never returned.

“Ous then followed him to enquire, but
he was asked by the two men to move
away, which he did.

“Ous later made attempt to inform family members, but
it
too late, as they had already left with
him in a black Pajero that was
parked outside the radio station.”

Four days have since passed and his whereabouts remains unknown to
family
and staff as well as colleagues.
This is
not the first time that Teranga FM
has come under attack.

Previous
managers have on several occasions been
subjected to interrogations at the NIA
in relation to their work and the
station itself was arbitrarily shut down
three times in under five years by
the state.

The family, supported by the GPU, has
already lodged a complaint at the Old
Yundum Police Station.

We are calling on the good office of
Inspector General of Police to
investigate the case of Alagie [Ceesay] and to ensure that he reunites with
his family and staff, who are missing his
presence in this Holy Month of
Ramadan.

The GPU is committed to the protection
and promotion of press freedom and freedom of expression.

Source: GPU

Aside

ALERT: Gambian Spies Interrogate Five Staff of The Voice Newspaper

1 Jul

The Gambia’s National Intellegence Agency (NIA) on Wednesday morning invited and grilled five journalists of The Voice newspaper.

On July 1, the Editor-In-Chief of the privately-owned newspaper, Musa S. Sheriff and senior reporters Sulayman Ceesay, Amadou Bah, Bakary Ceesay and Mafugi Ceesay were interrogated between 11:30 and 1330GMT at the NIA offices in Banjul.

This latest assault comes weeks after senior reporter Mafugi Ceesay was arrested and detained for more than an hour for covering a political rally of the President, Yahya Jammeh last month.

State agents have taken photos and personal details of the journalists including family and residential details.

They also obtained information about the Company’s operation and financial records during an extensive screening process.

The journalists said they were also checked against being “treat to national security” – a vague term.

“We were ask to go back to our office and continue doing our normal work,” senior reporter Bah later wrote.

The NIA officers claim the interrogation is meant to build cordial relations between the government and the media, according to the journalists.

Government-media relationst has never been cordial and this so-called claim has left the journalists wondering what sort of cordial relations is built in such a manner.

In 2014, Sheriff and
freelance journalist Sainey MK Marenah were detained and put through a 10-month trial and freed of conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor and publication of false news – with intent to cause fear and alarm – over a political defections article.

FPI understands this latest move is one of the many intimidating tactics employed by the authorities against the last remaining independent journalists in the country.

“This is [a] systematic campaign to silence The Voice journalists, who are among the remaining critical media houses in the Gambia,” said exiled Gambian journalist Sainey MK Marenah.

“However, any attempt to intimidate journalists will only send a wrong signal that the government is anti-media,” added Marenah who had a spell with The Voice as a freelancer.

Aside

STATEMENT: GPU deeply concerned by rough- handling of Journalist Mafugi Ceesay by security agents

11 Jun

The Gambia Press Union is calling on the
Gambia Armed Forces to investigate the case of Mafugi Ceesay of The Voice
Newspaper.

The journalist reported
that he was maltreated by men in
military uniform during the President’s meeting in Sukuta.

We are deeply concerned and worried
by the mistreatment meted out to Mr
. Ceesay.

Ceesay said he was on Wednesday June
3, assigned by his editors to cover the
meeting of President Yahya Jammeh in Sukuta, Kombo North, as
part of the Gambian leader’s much-
significant nationwide tour.

The reporter said he was taking notes
as the president was making his
address when an armed man in military uniform put him under arrest for
‘illegally covering’ the event without
getting press accreditation from the
State.

He alleged that the man in Military
fatigue held him by the neck and pulled him out of the crowd and took him to
his superiors, who subjected him to
interrogations.

During the one-hour plus that Mr.
Ceesay spent in their custody, his bag
was searched, and recorder, press card and notepad had been seized.

According to him, one of the men
dressed in GAF Uniform said, ‘I can put
you to sleep and go and play football.”

He noted that he was further
threatened by the men that later joined the President’s convoy.

However, he was later released without
any further incident and his gadgets
were given back to him when his
captors confirmed from their informants
that The Voice is not ‘an underground newspaper’.

The GPU has made efforts to engage the
Gambia Armed Forces since this case
involves men believed to be GAF
personnel.

Our representatives, accompanied by Journalist Ceesay, have
on Monday
and Tuesday, visited the Defence
Headquarters to lodge a formal
complaint to the Army Spokesperson,
but he was said to be busy.

The mistreatment and rough-handling
of Journalist Ceesay is quite
regrettable.

The GPU considers the
incident as an attack on press freedom. It infringes upon the reporter’s right to
seek, receive and impart information.

The constitution of the Gambia provides
an entrenched guarantee to press
freedom and further obliges the
independent press to hold the government accountable to the public.

The independent press executes this
mandate by
informing citizens about issues of
legitimate public interest.

The meeting in Sukuta concerns every Gambian, therefore denying journalists
to cover events accessed by the public
amounts to gross discrimination, which
is at variance with the Gambian
Constitution.

This unfortunate incident happened at a time when the GPU is making efforts
to engage the government in a
progressive dialogue with a view to
smoothening relations and bringing
about an end to the many years of
mistrust and misunderstanding.

The GPU remains committed to the
protection and promotion of freedom of
expression and of the press.

SOURCE: GAMBIA PRESS UNION, GPU

The Gambia Is Open to Media Self-Regulation: Malick Jones

5 May
'The government wants to better the relations and this can only work if we sit down and talk,' said Mr. Malick Jones (Photo Credit: MSJoof/FPI)

‘The government wants to better the relations and this can only work if we sit down and talk,’ said Mr. Malick Jones (Photo Credit: MSJoof/FPI)

The government of The Gambia is open to allowing the media have a self-regulatory body but   such progress can only be made through fruitful dialogue, according to a deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Information.

On Sunday, Malick Jones said The Gambia has come far from where “we were because we can today boast of at least 14 radio stations, a public television and 7 newspapers – four of which are daily.”

On May 3, 2015, a World Press Freedom Day event organised by the Gambia Press Union, UNESCO and the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, was held under the theme “Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality, and Media Safety in the Digital Age.”

“The government wants to better the relations and this can only work if we sit down and talk,” said Mr. Jones, also a prominent veteran broadcaster. “If this happens, we can regulate ourselves, not the government regulating us. We can learn a lot from Senegal and Ghana in this respect. We are waiting for funds from UNESCO to facilitate the self-regulation for the media in the country.” Continue reading

Commissioner Tlakula Urges Gambia To Adopt Model Law On Access To Information

4 May
Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, Pansy Tlakula (Photo Credit: MSJoof/FPI)

Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, Pansy Tlakula (Photo Credit: MSJoof/FPI)

Commissioner Pansy Tlakula has called on The Gambia government to join nations that have adopted the African Commission’s Access to Information Model Law which guarantees citizens absolute access to information.

“I am hoping that The Gambia will join others in adopting the Free Access to Information Act which has so far been adopted by only 16 countries across the African continent,” said Tlakula, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa. Continue reading

Special Rapporteur Criticises GPU Over Observer Status Neglect

3 May
Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, Pansy Tlakula (Photo Credit: MSJoof/FPI)

Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, Pansy Tlakula (Photo Credit: MSJoof/FPI)

The Gambia Press Union (GPU)’s leadership has come under stern criticism from the African Commission’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa for never utilizing its Observer Status.

“The Gambia Press Union has an ‘observer status’ but not once have they come to the office to report violations of the rights of journalists in this country,” Commissioner Pansy Tlakula said on World Press Freedom Day on Sunday.

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) granted observer status to the GPU) on October 26, 2011 after the Union applied for it under the ARTICLE 19/GPU European Commission-funded project.

The observer status allows for the Union to make statements at the ordinary sessions of the Commission on cases of violations of press freedom and freedom of expression. Continue reading

ALERT: Gambia’s National Assembly Caution Journalists on 2015 Auditor General Report

3 May
A cross section of Gambian journalists and bloggers at an FPI training (Photo Credit: MSJoof/FPI)

A cross section of Gambian journalists and bloggers at an FPI training (Photo Credit: MSJoof/FPI)

The Gambia’s National Assembly has warned newspaper parliamentary correspondents to stop publishing findings by a damning report on alleged fraud, misappropriation of public funds and managerial malpractices, local journalists told FPI Tuesday.

The Report of the Auditor General 2015, published in April by the National Audit Office, catalogs a series of instances in which public institutions are alleged to have misused taxpayers’ funds.

The findings are being brought to the attention of the public in publications by at least three independent newspapers.

‘Will not be accepted’ Continue reading

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