Gambian authorities are said to be clamping down on the media after a second arrest at the state broadcast TV station GRTS. Gambia’s spy agents arrested the network’s Director General Momodou Sabally and on Wednesday arrested a producer and backup host Bakary Fatty.
Reasons for their arrest have not been made public and neither has been formally charged.
Sabally and Fatty were arrested after GRTS made prominent the nomination of an opposition presidential contender who broke away from President Yahya Jammeh’s ruling APRC party. Opposition groups in The Gambia have been denied airtime and accused the state media of giving them little air time and heavily editing videos of their rallies in the past.
“The government’s intimidation of journalists and opposition leaders and supporters, its domination of state media, and its use of state resources for campaigning give the ruling party a clear advantage over other parties.” Human Rights Watch
Access to the state TV and radio networks has been demanded by opposition leaders in a meeting with electoral chief Alieu Njie.
The Gambia’s government is facing increasing pressure to give the press more freedom. Journalists are frequently arrested and detained, often charged with false publication and for violating a colonial sedition law.
Freedom House identified that the country’s Information and Communications Act was amended in 2013 to introduce a 15-year jail term and a fine of 3 million dalasis ($77,000) for anyone using the internet to spread false news or make derogatory statements, incite dissatisfaction, or instigate violence against the government or public officials.