The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), joins its partner organisation, the Gambia Press Union (GPU), to condemn the detention of Gambian journalist Bakary Mankajang and demands his immediate release.
Mankajang, founder of Mankajang Daily, an online news platform, received a call to report to the Police station in Banjulinding. However, upon his arrival at the station on September 20, 2023, he was detained by the Police Anti-Crime Unit.
The journalist informed the public in a Facebook post that he had received a call from a police officer instructing him to report to Fajikunda police station. He wasn’t sure about the reason for this call but believed it was connected to his trip to Jululung, Casamance in Southern Senegal. That trip was related to his work as a journalist, covering the arrest of a suspect in the killing of two police officers. However, the police are yet to provide any reason for the detention of the journalist or formally charge him.
His family visited him on September 21, 2023 at the Banjulinding police station and spoke to him briefly, but a family member said they were refused access to him and sent away by the police when they returned later that day to bring him fruits.
The GPU has called on the police to either charge the journalist or release him unconditionally, stressing the importance of adhering to the legal limit of 72 hours allowed by law for detention of suspects.
Furthermore, the GPU has urged the police to uphold the rights of Gambian citizens to freely receive, impart, and express themselves, as guaranteed by the 1997 Constitution and various regional and international human rights laws ratified by The Gambia.
The MFWA strongly condemns the arbitrary arrest and detention of Bakary Mankajang, and joins the GPU to demand his unconditional release. The arrest of Bakary puts into perspective, the concerning state of press freedom and freedom of expression in The Gambia, highlighting broader challenges faced by journalists in the region.