Gambian authorities have rearrested a journalist who was freed last week after being accused of leading a protest without a permit.
Baboucarr Sey, a sports journalist was charged with conspiracy to commit a felony, assembly without a permit, destruction of private property and unlawful use of a banner.
Sey was released unconditionally, according to activists but have been reporting to the police in the commercial city of Serrekunda, daily.
“Whatever the reason or reasons the police may have, it is an infringement on the journalist’s right to his freedom, curtailed and denied him at will by the authorities,” said Sidi Sanneh, an economist and ex-diplomat.
“He must either be formally charged and taken to court or be released. The Jammeh-era tactic of holding Gambians at ransom by requiring them to report daily to the police should not be encouraged to continue.”
Baboucarr Sey is currently being held at the Serrekunda Police Station, according to security sources.
Sey had been reporting extensively on a land dispute between youths and a real estate company, Global Properties. The company wants to turn a soccer field into homes but youths said they have always had that space and refused to yield.
Sey is claimed to have led the protest against Global Properties’ attempted takeover of the space.
Global Properties says it purchased the land 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.
Gambian authorities stifle media freedom through a combination of criminal prosecutions, physical intimidation, censorship.
It conceded that the country’s harsh internet law and defamation laws are unconstitutional and have begun a process for comprehensive media reforms.