|Photo: MFWA Facebook Page|
The Media Foundation for West Africa, MFWA, says it is “very upset” about a charge of “conspiracy to commit felony” brought against two Gambian journalists by the police in the capital, Banjul.
Mr. Baboucarr Ceesay, first vice president of the Gambian Press Union (GPU), also a correspondent of the Nairobi-based Nations Media Group, and Mr. Abubacarr Saidykhan, a freelance journalist, were slapped with the charge on September 10, 2012 for simply applying for a permit to peacefully demonstrate against the August execution of nine death row inmates.
“The MFWA is dismayed at this event, as the journalists, by seeking permission to protest, demonstrated their respect and faith in the authorities,” the Accra-based press and free expression watchdog said.
In that regard the MFWA calls on the Gambian government to drop this charge, uphold and respect Section 25 of the Gambian Constitution which entrenches the right to peaceful demonstration.
The MFWA said its sources reported that the charge on the journalists followed their arrest and detention on September 6, 2012, after seeking a police permit to peacefully protest against the execution of nine death row inmates upon the orders of President Yahya Jammeh.
They were, however, released on September 10 after signing a bail bond of 250,000 Gambian Dalasis (about US$8,333 ) each, with one Gambian surety.
The two, until their release, had been in the custody of the Interpol Unit of the Gambian police service.
The Foundation also quoted unnamed sources as saying “initial charges of “inciting violence” were dropped and replaced with the charge of conspiracy to commit felony.”
It added that when officials of the Gambian Press Union (GPU) demanded to see the charge sheet, a senior police officer retorted that they could not give out a charge sheet, explaining that they were still investigating the matter.
Ceesay and Saidykhan are expected to be arraigned before Court on September 17, 2012, MFWA sources reported.