On International Day to End Impunity (2 November), ARTICLE 19 West Africa is calling on Gambian Authorities to end the cycle of impunity for attacks on those who exercise their right to free speech.
We are highlighting the following case, where a journalist has been harassed and imprisoned merely for daring to exercise his duties.
Abdoulie John is the editor of Jollofnews.com, a Gambian news website, and stringer for the Associated Press news agency. On December 9 2012, he was on an assignment with Associated Press to cover the release of hostages held by the Mouvement des Forces Democratiques de Casamance (MFDC), a separatist group in South Senegal. Subsequent to this, he was arbitrary arrested and detained without charges by the Gambian National Intelligence Agency (NIA), a security agency that operates under the command of the President Yahya Jammeh.
During the investigation, his home was illegally searched, his laptop and flash drive were confiscated by the NIA and he was pressured to give over his email password — which he refused. His passport was also confiscated, banning him from travelling.
Despite his many attempts and the request of the African Commission Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression in Africa to the Gambian Government to give back the passport, the situation is still unresolved.
For six months, he was subject to vicious persecution and received many threats to his life and had to leave The Gambia for security reasons.
Fatou Jagne Senghor, Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 West Africa, said:
“The impact of impunity has a far reaching chilling effect on freedom of expression across the world. Attacks against all types of journalists, human rights defenders and media workers are rarely investigated, let alone punished, and this results in self-censorship, stopping journalists criticizing governments, or investigating issues such as corruption and human rights violations”.
“As well as dealing with murder, many of the cases we come across detail constant levels of harassment, threats, office break-ins and arbitrary arrests, which also have a chilling effect”.
“The problem isn’t just the pitiful rate of successful convictions for such crimes, but also a lack of thorough and effective investigations. We are calling for Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Mr Yankoba Badjie to return back Abdoulie John’s passport and to allow him travel safely in The Gambia”.
“We are also calling on the Government of The Gambia to adopt all necessary political and legal measures to protect journalists and human rights defenders and defend the right to freedom of expression, in accordance with its international obligations.”
For further information contact Fatou Jagne Senghor, Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 West Africa, via email at [email protected] or Khady Diallo, Programme Officer, at [email protected] or +221 338 690 322