Gambia: Six journalists condemned to two years in mile 2 prison
Amnesty International has expressed dismay at the sentencing of six Gambian journalists – including three executive members of the Gambian Press Union – to terms in prison. The journalists were given a mandatory sentence of two years’ imprisonment and fined 250,000 Dalasis (US$10,000) on two of the six counts. Failure to pay will result in having to serve two extra years for each count.
The journalists were convicted on six counts of sedition and defamation. They have been sent to Mile 2 State Central Prison.
The six convicted journalists are: Emil Touray, Secretary General of the Gambian Press Union (GPU); Sarata Jabbi Dibba, Vice President of the GPU, Pa Modou Faal, Treasurer of the GPU; Pap Saine and Ebou Sawaneh, publisher and editor of Point newspaper; and Sam Sarr, editor of Foroyaa newspaper.
Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director, Erwin van der Borght said:
“These journalists are prisoners of conscience, who are being punished for peacefully expressing their views. They should be released immediately and unconditionally.”
Initially, seven Gambian journalists were arrested on 15 June 2009 after publishing a Press Union statement that criticised President Yayha Jammeh for "inappropriate" comments made on state television about the unsolved 2004 murder of Point Editor Deyda Hydara.
On 18 June, the seven were charged with sedition, but one was released on bail and the others were held in Mile 2 Prison. On 22 June the remaining six were all released on bail.
The lack of independence of the judiciary in cases involving journalists and human rights defenders is increasing in Gambia and there has been a history of media repression in Gambia.
Act now: Call on the Gambian authorities to protect journalists and trade unionists