Senegal: CPJ urges Gambian authorities to lift ban on three radio stations

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) - The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Gambian authorities to allow three independent radio stations to resume full broadcasting.

In a statement on Friday, the press freedom watchdog said Taranga FM, Hilltop Radio, and Afri Radio stopped broadcasting on 1 January 2017 on the orders of national security agents, who did not give any explanation for the measure.

The closures came amid a political crisis in Gambia after President Yahya Jammeh refused to admit defeat in elections last month.

"The Gambia government's decision to summarily censor three radio stations is a clear effort to limit people's access to information during this critical period of political transition," remarked CPJ West Africa Representative, Peter Nkanga, in the same statement that was made available to PANA in Dakar, Senegal.

"Authorities should immediately and unconditionally allow the radio stations to resume broadcasting and desist from muzzling the press," he insisted.

The statement noted that authorities may have targeted at least one of the stations after it announced details of President-elect Adama Barrow's inauguration, planned for 19 January.

According to CPJ, Gambia's National Intelligence Agency (NIA) agents and a police officer told staff at the privately-owned Taranga FM that they were acting on executive orders to stop the station broadcasting.

However, Afri Radio was allowed back on air on Tuesday on the condition it broadcast only music.

CPJ quoted Emil Touray, head of the Gambia Press Union, saying that the orders to stop broadcasting was "a slap in the face" for democracy.

The statement also recalled that authorities have repeatedly censored and harassed Taranga FM, and a Gambian court on 8 November 2016 convicted Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay, the station's exiled manager, of three counts of sedition and spreading false news.  

He was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison and a fine of 200,000 Gambian dalasi  approximately (US$4,674).

-0- PANA MLJ/AR 6Jan2016

06 january 2017 15:46:32

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