Lamin Fatty, the reporter of the Banjul-based bi-weekly The Independent who was arrested and detained by the Gambian police is still in custody two weeks after his arrest.
He has still not been charged with any offence.Fatty was arrested on April 10, two weeks after police raided the newspaper’s offices, arrested all members of staff including its managing director, Madi Ceesay, and editor, Musa Saidykhan and forcibly closed down the offices, taking away the keys. Following Fatty’s arrest other journalists including Sulayman Makalo, the assistant editor felt threatened and went into hiding. Although the police have not provided any reasons for Fatty’s arrest nor for his continued detention, on April 24 they retuned the keys of the newspaper’s offices.Ceesay and Saidykhan who were released last Thursday April 20, after three weeks in detention at Gambia National Intelligence Agency’s (NIA) headquarters in Banjul, were also not charged with any crime and were granted bail in the sum of 200,000 Gambian dalasis (equivalent of US$ 7,400) each and one surety each.
The “Independent” in its March 24, edition reported that Samba Bah, former Interior minister and head of the NIA was among those arrested after the March 21, alleged coup attempt against President Yahya Jammeh.Bah exercised his constitutional right to a rejoinder and this was published together with an apology, in the subsequent issues of the newspaper. The MFWA calls for Fatty’s immediate and unconditional release and invites the government of President Jammeh to demonstrate respect for rule of law and media freedom in theGambia as enshrined in the country’s constitution. We strongly condemn the arbitrary use of the state security to harass and silence the media in The Gambia whenever the government feels disillusioned about any publication.