AI hails ECOWAS Court ruling against Gambia’s media laws

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) – Amnesty International (AI) on Wednesday hailed the West African sub-regional court’s ruling against Gambia’s draconian media laws.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Regional Court of Justice sitting in Abuja, Nigeria, on Wednesday found that draconian media laws on sedition, false news and criminal defamation violated the right to freedom of expression in Gambia.

“Today is an historic day for Gambia’s journalists and human rights defenders who, for decades, have suffered torture, imprisonment or exile just for exercising their right to freedom of expression,” remarked Sabrina Mahtani, AI’s West Africa researcher in a statement made available to PANA.

“These laws have done nothing but created a pervasive culture of persecution, violence, and injustice against those working in the media in Gambia under the regime of former President Yahya Jammeh.

“Today’s ruling should spur the new government to waste no time in repealing these laws, to ensure it meets its responsibilities under international and regional law, and to lay a foundation for a strong human rights culture.

“Our hope is that this ruling will also have a positive impact on other countries in West Africa where similarly restrictive laws are being used to prosecute journalists,” Mahtani added.

Although press freedom has dramatically improved under the new government of President Adama Barrow, who was inaugurated in January 2017, these restrictive laws are still in place.

According to AI, the ruling will set an important precedent as many countries within West Africa continue to use similar repressive laws to silence freedom of expression, and hinder the vital work of journalists, in violation of international and regional human rights law.

-0- PANA MLJ/AR 14Feb2018

14 Fevereiro 2018 16:57:14




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