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Gambian Journalist Wins Award for Courage

Gambian Journalist Wins Award for Courage

Madi Ceesay, a Gambian journalist is due to receive the international press freedom award. He is one of the four journalists that will be honored by the committee to protect journalists on November 21 in Washington, DC for their courageous work in journalism.

He is the president of Gambia Press Union and the General Manager of the bi-weekly newspaper The Independent. Madi Ceesay who is in Washington told VOA’s Douglas Mpuga that the status of press freedom in Gambia is now very poor. “The journalists in Gambia are operating under a very hostile environment. We have seen serious attacks on the media, especially the independent ones,” observed Ceesay. “We have got our house burnt, our printing press was also burnt. Also other media, the broadcast media are not spared either. Radio One FM suffered an arson attack, a BBC correspondent’s house was burnt and he and his family narrowly escaped death”, he added.

Ceesay said the media in Gambia is under threat and there is no press freedom because there is a lot of intimidation. He described his own ordeal when he, in March 2006, was arrested for over three weeks under what he describes as horrible conditions.

The Independent newspaper got into trouble with the government after publishing a story alleging that some coup plotters had been arrested. Following the publication of the story, the newspaper was closed. “….the newspaper was shut down, we don’t have access to our offices, apparently we are out of business” he said.

Ceesay said he still believes he has to carry on with the job because “somebody must do the job even though it is becoming increasingly difficult to do our duties.” he said.

He called for the international media to highlight their plight as a way exerting pressure on the government of Gambia to respect human rights and press freedoms.