The Banjul-based bi-weekly The Independent newspaper raided and forcibly closed down by Gambian authorities last month still remains closed.
when the management of the newspaper’s offices were about to open up and resume normal business, the police for the second time seized the keys and arrested the receptionist Juldeh Sowe. No official reason has been given for the latest police action. Sowe and Lamin Fatty a reporter are the latest independent staff in police custody. Madi Ceesay, managing director and Musa Saidykhan were released last week after three weeks in police custody without any charge.
The police stormed the newspaper’s office on Tuesday morning and arrested Sowe who was the only staff member there at that time. Meanwhile, Ceesay has expressed shock and dismay at the latest police action.He said it was the same police who asked them to start work after their release on April 20. According to him when he contacted the police, they said, they were executing”instructions from the top”.The MFWA condemns the incessant harassment and arrest of the “Independent”‘s members. We consider these acts as tantamount to undermining democracy, restricting media freedom and denying freedom of expression to journalists and citizens of the country. We are also appalled by this show of an insidious intolerance of a critical press by the Gambian authorities – coming as it does at a time the country is preparing to host the Africa Union summit.
MFWA demands the immediate and unconditional reopening of the offices of the “Independent” as well as the release of Lamin Fatty and Juldeh Sowe.We kindly ask you to protest this deliberate attempt to restrict media freedom by President Yahya Jammeh’s administration.