- An all-out campaign against the culture of impunity and violent attacks on Gambians, especially journalists, was launched in the Ghanaian capital Accra on Monday.
Launched by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and the Network of African Freedom of Expression Organizations (NAFEO), the 63-page booklet catalogues arrests, detentions and repressive media laws in The Gambia.
It gives account of closed down media houses, journalists forced into exile, and media houses attacked by arson. It also includes the uninvestigated murder of a leading newspaper editor and co-proprietor of ‘The Point’, Deyda Hydara on 16 December 2004.
The campaign demands unconditional release from custody of journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh, who had been arrested and detained incommunicado by the police and intelligence agents since July 2006. He had since not appeared before any court of law. Ironically, the government and its security deny knowledge of the whereabouts of the pro-government ‘Daily Observer’ reporter.
The high-profile campaign, the first of its kind in The Gambia, aims to target African and international human rights organizations, the UN human rights agencies, governments that have relations with The Gambia, to put pressure on the government of President Jammeh to end his violent repression of free expression.
In its efforts to add value to the campaign, the “MFWA will also send a formal presentation of the campaign to the African Union Chairman, Ghana’s President John Agyekum Kufuor, to intervene and demand President Jammeh to free Chief Manneh, and respect freedom of expression.”
The brain behind the invaluable campaign, MFWA Executive Director, Kwame Kari Kari said the campaign dossier of press freedom violations in the country since President Jammeh forcefully took over power in 1994 has been “published and is being distributed as documentary evidence of the violations of free expression.”
The campaign will expose the little known human rights violations, especially with regard to freedom of expression and media rights in The Gambia to the international community.
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