Senegal: CPJ calls for release of Gambian journalist, broadcast executive

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) – Gambian authorities should immediately release a journalist and the head of the state-owned broadcaster who have been held without charge or access to their families or lawyers for a week, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Monday.

In a statement made available to PANA in Dakar, Senegal, the press freedom watchdog revealed that officers from Gambia's National Intelligence Agency (NIA) detained Momodou Sabally, director-general of the Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS), and Bakary Fatty, a GRTS agriculture reporter, on November 8, and have kept them without access to their families or lawyers.

The arrests came in the run-up to presidential election scheduled for 1 December and CPJ said
no charges have been filed against the two.

"If Gambia's intelligence service has compelling evidence that the head of the state broadcaster, Momodou Sabally, and agricultural reporter Bakary Fatty are guilty of any crime save journalism, let them produce it immediately or free them without delay," remarked CPJ Africa Programme Coordinator Angela Quintal. "Credible elections depend on free media and journalists' ability to cover the process without fear of reprisal."

According to the statement, two Gambian journalists in exile and a third still in Gambia, speaking to CPJ on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, the statement said that authorities have given no reason for Sabally and Fatty's detention, and that the two have not seen a judge.

The Gambian Constitution requires that anyone arrested or detained be brought before a court within 72 hours.

Gambian Information minister, Sheriff Bojang told CPJ that he did not know the reason for the arrests, and suggested that CPJ contact the inspector general of police and the press freedom body disclosed that it had tried reaching the police on phone without success.

The statement, however, indicated that local activists told the advocacy organization Human Rights Watch that they believe the arrests could be connected to the state broadcaster's airing of footage showing an opposition candidate's nomination ahead of presidential election scheduled to take place on December 1.

-0- PANA MLJ/AR 21Nov2016

21 november 2016 17:13:31

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