Gambian authorities have arrested and denied bail to a sports journalist and a group of youths challenging the takeover of a soccer field, which is claimed by a real estate firm, Global Properties.
Baboucarr Sey was purportedly lured into the Serrekunda Police Station on Friday, following a press conference on the land dispute, where he is being detained.
Police say Sey failed to obtain a permit to hold a protest march and press conference.
Sey is claimed to have led last month’s protest backed by dozens of youths and residents in Kololi against Global Properties decision to take ownership of the playground used as a soccer field.
The protest was held to express outrage against the real estate company’s “forceful take over the land from the youths.”
“The land in question was a state land that was illegally and surreptitiously transferred to KMC and then to Global Properties that then colluded with KMC and Swami India International that benefited from a 99-year sub-lease at less than D6,000 dalasis,” said economist, Sidi Sanneh.
Activists are calling for his immediate release and accusing the government of arresting him over reports he made covering tensions and protests that followed the attempted takeover of the land by Global Properties.
Global Properties says it purchased the property from the former Gambian government, which was defeated in an election last year. Its Chief Executive Officer, Saul Fraizer has been appointed as Ambassador at Large by the new president, Adama Barrow.
Sey is being transferred severally between Serrekunda and Kanifing police stations, according to security sources, a tactic reminiscent of Jammeh era civil rights violations.
Gambian authorities stifle media freedom through a combination of criminal prosecutions, physical intimidation, censorship.
It has this week conceded that the country’s harsh internet law and defamation laws are unconstitutional and have begun a process for comprehensive media reforms.
(Reporting and Writing by Sam Phatey; Additional Writing and Editing by Sainey Marenah)