Two journalists from the state broadcaster, Gambia Radio-Television Service (GRTS), have been assaulted by security guards and supporters of Yahya Jammeh’s APRC, the main opposition political party, while covering the funeral of the mother of the exiled ex-president.
Journalists Louis Mendy and Modou Ceesay were abused and prevented by guards wearing APRC Security tags from getting near the arriving aircraft and subsequently, from filming the body of former dictator’s mother which was flown in on August 4, 2018 from Equatorial Guinea where Jammeh and his family are on exile.
Modou Ceesay, the cameraman, told the Gambia Press Union (GPU), a press freedom organisation, that he was accosted by one of the guards when he climbed a van to film the procession as it headed from the airport towards the funeral grounds. Ceesay added that the guard, who was holding a scarf labeled ‘APRC Security’, ordered that he follows him.
“More people joined as we moved. One of them slapped me in the face. Then all of them began hitting and kicking me like a thief in the street. They seized my camera and I ran away,” Ceesay narrated.
Medical examinations show Ceesay sustained no external injury, but he is said to be suffering internal pain and trauma. The two journalists have lodged a complaint with the Police according to a statement by the GPU.
The GPU has expressed grave concern at this incident and other recent incidents of hostility towards the media and called on political parties to educate their supporters to desist from attacking journalists.
“Impunity is rearing its ugly head and it is becoming a culture even when past violations are not yet adequately addressed. I am once again calling on President Adama Barrow and his government to provide safe environment for journalists to operate. I also call on party leaders to educate and sensitise their supporters to understand that journalists are not their enemies,” said Bai Emil Touray, the president of the GPU in a statement.
The MFWA joins our national partner organisation, the GPU, in condemning the attack and calls on the leadership of the APRC to cooperate fully with the police to identify and punish the culprits.