Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July 2014, 17:47 GMT

Gambia: Rights groups condemn journalist verdict

Publisher Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
Publication Date 7 August 2009
Cite as Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Gambia: Rights groups condemn journalist verdict, 7 August 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a7fcc975.html [accessed 1 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
DAKAR, 7 August 2009 (IRIN) - Rights groups have criticized the two-year jail sentences meted out in the Gambia to six journalists for publishing a statement criticizing President Yahya Jammeh.

The journalists, working for The Point and Foroyaa newspapers, were sentenced on charges of sedition and criminal defamation for publishing a 11 June press union statement criticizing the president's comments on the unsolved murder of Deyda Hydara, editor of The Point.

"Despite President Jammeh's earlier claims to respect press freedom and freedom of speech, he has now sealed Gambia's last remaining independent voices," the Committee to Protect Journalists' Africa programme coordinator, Tom Rhodes, told IRIN.

Reporters Without Borders said in a 6 August statement: "We will soon run out of words to express our outrage at President Yahya Jammeh's government and its behaviour towards journalists. Is it a crime to express an opinion and ask government officials to explain their actions? Appealing for what is regarded as transparency in other countries is a crime punishable by imprisonment in Gambia."

The sentences are the most recent in a string of arrests and journalist detentions in the Gambia since President Jammeh came to power.

President Jammeh said in a June statement: "They [journalists] think they can hide behind so-called press freedom and violate the law and get away with it. They got it wrong this time. We are going to prosecute them to the letter."

The defense will reportedly appeal the verdict.

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