UN is calling on Gambian authorities to release two journalists that are being detained by the National Intelligence Agency since early November.
State broadcast GRTS Director Momodou Sabally and substitute anchor and producer Bakary Fatty continue to be held incommunicado, with no access to family members or lawyers, the UN said.
Their arrest came some few weeks ahead of the country’s crucial presidential poll after the state broadcast network aired footages of the nomination of an opposition presidential hopeful. State authorities did not say if their arrest is related to the broadcast.
According to Human Rights Watch, Gambian authorities routinely target voices of dissent, including journalists.
“The Gambian government’s arrest of three journalists before the start of the presidential election campaign could have a chilling effect on the media’s ability to fairly cover the election,” said Babatunde Olugboji, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch. “Intimidation and threats against the media need to stop for voters to be able to make informed decisions.”
The Gambia’s government is accused of tightly controlling the media.
ECOWAS said the 2011 polls were not free and fair citing “an unacceptable level of control of the electronic media by the party in power and an opposition and electorate cowed by repression and intimidation”
At least two other journalists were released last week after they were arrested for taking pictures of a crowd accompanying The Gambia’s president’s convoy.