Press union ask for detained journalist to be released, closed radios opened

Press union ask for detained journalist to be released, closed radios opened

The Gambia Press Union is demanding the release of a journalist who has been detained since last year and for charges against the former director of the state broadcast network be dropped.

Journalist Bakary Fatty has been detained since November 8, 2016. Director Momodou Sabally has been released on bail after being arraigned for the second time on charges that were previously dropped.

At least four radio stations have been arbitrarily closed since the beginning of the new year.

Although President Yahya Jammeh announced a moratorium on arrest and detentions, the press union expressed concerns by the current climate of fear.

Saikou Jammeh, the Secretary General of the union said the group “sees the closure of the radio stations as a violation of the right of the journalist to freedom of speech and their right to work.”

“The closures also violate the right of the public to receive, access and impart information that could be meaningful in their lives, especially during this crucial time in our country,” he said.

It now wants the private radio stations reopened.

President Yahya Jammeh has ordered his Attorney General to draft an amnesty bill. Details of the bill remain unknown.

Journalists are frequently arrested and detained on flimsy and superficial charges.

Despite a 2005 press law that guarantees the right of citizens to obtain information and prohibits censorship, reporters from news outlets that are perceived to be critical of the government are routinely denied access to public information and excluded from official events.

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