Gambia, Benin, Niger ranked 4th in freedom of expression violations in West Africa

Gambia, Benin, Niger ranked 4th in freedom of expression violations in West Africa

The Gambia and Niger has been ranked fourth in West Africa in violating freedom of expression, a new report by Ghana based Media Foundation for West Africa revealed though there was a 41% decline in violations across the region.

Nigeria topped the table with nine violations, followed by Ghana with eight and Guinea was third with 5 violations while Benin, Gambia and Niger shared the 4th position with 4 violations each.

Ten other nations including The Gambia, where a journalist Alhagie Abdoulie Ceesay was prosecuted saw a significant drop in the number of violations.

Ceesay escaped to neighboring Senegal from custody after falling ill in detention and admitted at the teaching hospital in Banjul. His lawyers said he was tortured.

Physical attacks (18), arbitrary arrests and detentions (7) and threats (6) were the most dominant types of violations of freedom of expression rights.

Niger registered the highest reduction: four incidents in January-June 2016, down from 13 in January-June 2015, representing a 69% drop. Though Nigeria tops the list, it had a 55% reduction with nine recorded violations against 20 in the corresponding period of 2016.

West African security forces have mainly being blamed for the violations. More than half of the reported hostility to the press, 21 out of 44 across West Africa have been carried out by law enforcement authorities.

State officials and organized groups were also held liable.

The three constitute 77% of violators.

At least two journalists were killed in West Africa this year and the African Human Rights court has ruled that Burkina Faso should pay USD $70,000 in compensation to its citizen and journalist, Lohé Issa Konaté, who was wrongfully sentenced to a one-year jail term in 2012.

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