Gambia’s police are investigating the assault on a journalist outside a political bureau where three ministers held a press conference.
Gambia’s Interior Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty said the assault on Kebba Jeffang, a reporter for the Foroyaa Newspaper is “unacceptable” and apologized for the incident.
Fatty was one of the ministers at the press conference and came under scrutiny for telling Foreign Minister Ousainou Darboe that Mr. Jeffang “was a PDOIS supporter.”
PDOIS is the publisher of the Foroyaa Newspaper, which had chronicled the human rights violations of the Gambia’s former regime.
“No one should be a victim for the legitimate expression of his or her views, and I regret that the unexpected incident happened,” Fatty said. “I think there should be no appropriate justification to attack anyone particularly a journalist in the course of their duties.”
Gambia’s press leader, Bai Emil Touray urged for cooperation but insist that those that attacked Jeffang should know that their actions are not only unlawful but inhumane and degrading and they should be censored in its totality.
Although Article 25 of the constitution provides for freedom of expression and of the press, the former government does not respect these rights in practice.
Gambian journalist are fighting laws that restrict their work. 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 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.
Gambian authorities until recently stifled media freedom through a combination of criminal prosecutions, physical intimidation, censorship, and the promotion of government views in state-run or friendly private outlets.
Journalists are frequently arrested and detained on flimsy and superficial charges.