Five journalists running for office in Gambia

At least five journalists in a country, where the press has suffered brutal reprisal under an ousted dictator will be seeking to become lawmakers.

Journalists in The Gambia, mainland Africa’s smallest country have announced they will be running for office in next month’s polls, including a veteran reporter, Madi Ceesay.

According to Saikou Jammeh, the press union secretary, Ceesay with Nfamara Jawneh, Mustapha Kah, Pierre Mendy and Sang Mendy will be seeking to become National Assembly Members.

The media organization in the Gambia has been battling to have repressive laws repealed. A petition is already pending in the Supreme Court.

Although Article 25 of the constitution provides for freedom of expression and of the press, Jammeh’s government did not respect these rights in practice.

Defamation is a criminal offense, as is sedition and the dissemination of false information. The Information and Communications Act was amended in 2013 to introduce a 15-year jail term and a fine of 3 million dalasi ($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.

Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow has promised to ensure media freedom. A journalist, Kebba Jeffang, however, was assualted by supporters of three of the opposition parties that make up his administration.

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