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

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