Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Gambia: MFWA calls for ‘end to repression’


July 22 is marked by human rights organizations and civil society groups globally as “Gambia Day of Action”

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has called for an end to what it considers “19 years of repression and impunity in The Gambia” and urges internet users to “Take action now”.

It reiterated The Gambia Government’s refusal to comply with two human rights judgements delivered against it by the regional community Court of Justice (the ECOWAS Court) since 2010.

The MFWA statement issued to co-inside with the 19th Coup Anniversary of President Yahya Jammeh on July 22, stated: “In The Gambia today, critical media reportage is literally outlawed, while other rights violations continue to be perpetrated by the government with gross impunity”.



July 22, 2013, marks 19 years of President Yahya Jammeh’s rule of West Africa’s smallest country, The Gambia, after the 48-year old leader seized power in 1994 through a military coup.

The 19-year rule of President Jammeh has been characterized by brutal repression of citizens’ rights to free expression. Freedom of speech and media rights have remained stifled mainly through the application of inimical laws and the meting out of stiffer punishments after politically motivated trials.

While traditional media remained repressed, Gambian citizens have over the years relied on the internet as an alternative channel for expressing themselves.

Gambians based home and abroad have, over the years, used the internet to advocate for the respect and protection of human rights (especially freedom of expression) in the country.

Online freedom too has now been severely restricted through a new draconian internet law passed on July 3, 2013, according to the Accra-based MFWA.

The new internet law known as (Information and Communication Act 2013) allows for a 15 year jail term and/or a US$90,000 fine for the offence of “publication of false news” about the government on the internet. Many have expressed concern about the obvious dire implications of the law on online freedom and freedom of expression in The Gambia.

July 22 is marked by human rights organizations and civil society groups globally as “Gambia Day of Action” and the MFWA entreats all internet-users across the world to join the campaign to protest against the new Internet law and the worsening conditions of freedom of expression in The Gambia.

“We specifically, request internet users, rights activists and individuals to act by sending a protest message via SMS to the Gambian Government through its Minister of Information, Nana Grey Johnson, on his cell phone number: 002209916181,” MFWA Executive Director, Prof Kwami Karikari said.

Since 1994, dozens of human rights advocates and journalists have been exiled, others have been killed and several others have disappeared, according to MFWA research.

On Monday, the MFWA, West Africa’s leading free expression and press freedom agency, hosted a 1-hour Twitter forum on The Gambia via “@MFWAALERTS” from 1400-1500 GMT.


Written by TNBES Official
 
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