The Gambia: Journalist Arrested for Taking “Unauthorised” Pictures of Ruling Party Supporters

A freelance photojournalist has been arrested in the Gambia for taking “unauthorised” pictures of supporters of The Gambian President Yahyah Jammeh.

The MFWA’s sources say Alhagie Manka was arrested on  November 10, 2016 by soldiers who found him taking pictures of a crowd of the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) party supporters who were returning from nominating President Yahya Jammeh for the presidential election.

The arresting soldiers accused Manka of taking the photo shots with his smartphone rather than a camera and without accreditation. After arresting him, the soldiers reportedly transferred Manka to the NIA headquarters in Banjul for questioning and his family members say they have since not seen him.

Alhagie Manka’s arrest is the third in three days as the ruling clique crank up pressure against perceived anti-government media personnel.

On November 8, officials from Gambia’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA) arrested Momodou Sabally, Director-General of Gambia’s state television. They also arrested popular state television presenter Bakary Fatty. In violation of Gambian law, the state continues to detain the journalists without charge.

With elections due in a two weeks, the media is expected to play a critical role in informing and educating the public on the electoral processes. The arbitrary arrest of media personnel at this crucial moment is therefore retrogressive and unacceptable. Consequently, the MFWA strongly condemns the crackdown and call for the immediate release of the three journalists. We also call on the NIA and all state institutions in The Gambia to play a neutral, republican role to ensure a level playing field leading to credible and peaceful elections.

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