The Committee to Protect Journalists is calling for the release of
seven Gambian journalists arrested for reacting to President Yahya
Jammeh's dismissal of an investigation involving the 2004 murder of
journalist Deyda Hydara.
The New York-based Committee to
Protect Journalists has called for the release of seven journalists
detained by Gambia's National Intelligence Agency.
include three members of the Gambian Press Union, two reporters from
The Point newspaper and two journalists from Foroyaa newspaper. They
were detained on Monday after reprinting a press release that
criticized President Jammeh for dismissing an investigation into the
unsolved murder of journalist Deyda Hydara.
Tom Rhodes is the
Africa Program Coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists. He
expressed concern that the journalists have still not been released.
publication editor should be detained for republishing a press release
made by the Gambian Press Union," he said. "The whole point of an
independent press is to show all viewpoints and that is a certainly
viable one. We call on the NIA [National Intelligence Agency] officials
to release them immediately."
Veteran Gambian journalist Deyda
Hydara, co-founder of The Point newspaper, was gunned down in 2004.
There has been no investigation into the killing but human rights
organizations have voiced suspicions that the government was involved.
June 8, President Jammeh said in a television interview that he had "no
stake" in Hydara's death. He hinted that the journalist had a
complicated love life that might have resulted in his murder.
Rhodes said there are still many unanswered questions on the case.
what we can determine and gather from the Gambian Press Union, there's
been absolutely no government investigation into the matter. The one
positive thing we can vest from this rather dire situation is that at
least the government is reacting to public pressure to respond to these
allegations," said Rhodes.
Gambia has long been criticized for
its human rights record and lack of press freedom. In 2006 veteran
journalist Ebrima Manneh went missing. Despite repeated pressure from
international rights groups, the Gambian government has never released
any information about his whereabouts.
Rhodes says the latest arrests could trigger a downward spiral.
journalists on the ground such as those at Foroyaa it's really going to
affect what people know of what's going on in the Gambia in the wider
picture of human rights," said Rhodes.
The Foroyaa newspaper is
petitioning President Jammeh for the release of the detained
journalists, including its managing editor Sam Sarr.