Article 19 have found that the laws surrounding media and free speech in the Gambia fail to meet international obligations under the freedom of expression. They are seriously concerned with the continous violations committed by Gambia against free speech, and the harrassments of those who exercise it.
Omar Joof has called on Yahya Jammeh to accept his role in the murder of student demonstrators on the 10th and 11th of April 2000. Joof has claimed that the order to shoot and kill the student demonstrators came directly from Yahya Jammeh.
"There cannot be any healing while Yahya Jammeh and his stooges continue to treat the deaths and maiming of our comrades with such outrageous disdain. The whole world should recognise that this attitude constitutes a dangerous provocation. The fact that their crimes against us were committed 12 years ago does not in any way minimise our outrage.”
Yahya Jammeh has said that while he is president he will not accept aid from foreign donors who he sees as hoping to push a "gay agenda" on the country. In response to calls from Barack Obama and David Cameron to countries receiving foreign aid to be subject to LGBT rights inclusive human rights he said
"If you are to give us aid for men and men or for women and women to marry, leave it. We don’t need your aid because as far as I am the president of the Gambia, you will never see that happen in this country. We do not need your aid money. You can keep it. We will not encourage ungodly vices alien to our culture. As long as I’m the president of this country, there will be no gay rights. Homosexuality is forbidden in this country."
CJA URGES SECRETARY-GENERAL TO GET TOUGH WITH GAMBIA'S PRESIDENT YAHYA JAMMEH
The Commonwealth Journalists Association wishes Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma success on his forthcoming visit to The Gambia and urges him to send a forceful message to President Yahya Jammeh regarding the deteriorating conditions for a proper functioning news media in his country.
Our colleagues in the Commonwealth Journalists Association report that media in The Gambia remains under sustained pressure through prosecutions for sedition and criminal libel, government closure of news agencies, intimidation and physical attacks on journalists. We support the urgent call for legal and institutional reform that will bring The Gambia's media laws in line with international standards and indeed with human rights agreements that the government has signed.
The Secretary-General has the excellent report by the Expert Group he dispatched to The Gambia last November to observe the federal election. Among other deficiencies in the country’s democratic processes, the Expert Group report was especially critical of the appallingly sad state of Gambian news media. We urge the Secretary-General to address these issues with President Jammeh.
The group’s report noted:
“Although the Gambian Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, several Criminal Code amendments related to the offence of ‘Seditious Publication’ make any written or oral statement that is critical of the government an offence that carries stiff penalties in the form of imprisonment and heavy fines. There are numerous sections and sub-sections to the law that by any measure effectively make free and independent journalism an impossible and perilous goal. .
And although President Jammeh has toned down his calculated and threatening rhetoric about journalists, his Election Day news conference clearly revealed he has lost none of the contempt he has previously and aggressively exhibited towards them.
Members of the observation team know only too well that the persecution suffered by Gambian journalists and the monitoring of those abuses by international monitoring bodies, has had a damaging effect on this proud nation’s international reputation...
A free and independent news media is a vital organ in the body of any democracy worthy of the name, but such is the oppressed and under-developed state of journalism in The Gambia that the Expert Group must regrettably report that the ‘fair play and daylight’ professional reporting brings to the ongoing democratic political process is almost non-existent here.
Free and independent news media, operating within internationally recognized ethical standards and within reasonable laws of libel and slander, can only breathe life into Gambian democracy.”
The Expert Group detailed numerous examples of state-sponsored abuse of journalists. The full report can be found on the Commonwealth Secretariat's website at http://bit.ly/I2i9Wi
We urge the Secretary-General to take these examples, and the general concerns expressed by the experts and our journalist colleagues in The Gambia, and seek commitments from President Jammeh that he will institute immediate reform of these archaic, unacceptable restrictions on journalists and abide by the democratic standards that all Commonwealth nations are bound to honour.
Rita Payne President Commonwealth Journalists Association
A HIV sufferer has written in to the Daily News requesting that Yahya Jammeh withdraw his AIDS cure program and instead to promote the use of ARVs which are scientifically backed and approved globally as an HIV treatment. Read more at http://dailynews.gm/africa/gambia/article/president-jammeh-has-to-stop-the-presidential-aids-cure-program-for-the-sake-of-our-nation
44 year old Viktor Bout was jailed for 25 years on March 8th. He is known as the Merchant of Death and was an international arms dealer. It has been reported that he was close friends with Baba Jobe, the former Gambian assistant secretary at the Office of the President (Yahya Jammeh)
There is no law commanding the people of Gambia to salute the president as he passes by, yet in recent times some uniformed men and women have arrested members of the civic and private sector for not saluting the president and his entourage as it passes by. Although they were not detained for long, it is not right that they were detained at all. Other people have been driven far away from their location and left there for failing to salute the president.
Eighteen men (16 Gambians, 1 Nigerian and 1 Senegalese national) have been arrested in the Gambia and charged with committing the practice of homosexuality, which is illegal in the Gambia. They have all pleaded not guilty to the charge yet been denied bail by the prosecuter. The matter is currently being investigated. The accused are being detailed at Mile Two prison.
26 British MPs have signed an House of Commons Cross Party Early Day Motion calling on the UK government to take diplomatic action and lead the international community in redoubling its efforts to see that The Gambia ends its human rights abuses. The Liberal Democrat MP Joe Swinson also raised concerns over the recent election which was boycotted by ECOWAS.
Within the last month at least twenty men and women from the prison services have had their contracts terminated. They were given dismissal letters without explaining the reasons behind their dismissal and that they all have to report to the National Intelligence Agency on a daily basis.