Some irate supporters of the Alliance for Patriotic, Reorientation and Construction (APRC), political party of former President Yahya Jammeh, have assaulted two journalists who were covering court proceedings in Banjul, Gambia.
Modou Saidy, a journalist working with the private media outlet Fatu Network, and Romain Chanson, a reporter of Radio France International (RFI), were attacked on July 8, 2019, by the APRC militants outside the High Court complex in Banjul.
The journalists were filming the APRC supporters who had come to the court to show solidarity with Yankuba Touray, former Minister of Local Government and Lands, and one the founders of the APRC. Touray is standing trial in connection with the murder of Ousman Koro Ceesay, former finance minister, in June 1995.
As the journalists were filming, some of the militants advanced towards them and physically assaulted them. The assailants tried to seize the journalist’s cameras and nearly damaged them. Chanson had to flee after a heavy stone targeted at him missed narrowly.
The Gambia Press Union (GPU), national partner organisation of MFWA in Gambia, has expressed deep concern about the wanton violence against the journalists.
“The Union is troubled that attacks on journalists in the execution of their professional duties by party supporters is becoming frequent. If this is not stopped, it could warrant a media blackout for all the activities of parties guilty of such misconducts,” GPU’s Vice President, Mustapha K. Darboe, said in a statement issued on July 9, 2019.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Public Relations Officer of APRC, Dodou Jah, has expressed regret over the incident and promised to sensitise the party’s supporters about the need to uphold press freedom, as recommended by the GPU.
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) also condemns the attack and urges the APRC leadership to investigate the matter and punish the culprits. We further urge all political parties to ensure the safety and security of journalists covering their activities.