- Another Gambian journalist who works with the Banjul-based pro-opposition 'Foroyaa' newspaper has gone missing since 14 October.
Yahya Dampha was arrested on October 6, 2007 together with Amnesty International (AI)-UK officials [Tania Bernath, Director for Africa and Ayodele Ameen, Campaign Officer for West Africa] by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in Basse, about 500 km from the capital Banjul. Accused of espionage, the officials were unconditionally released on 12 October.
Dampha's disappearance came after the NIA had stormed his house in a suburb in Serekunda [Gambia's largest city], questioning his wife about his whereabouts. The personnel, who were told that Dampha had gone to work, have since been regular visitors to his house. Since then, Yahya is believed to have gone into hiding, although his whereabouts have not been established.
Dampha had earlier accompanied the AI investigators to Basse administrative to investigate about cases of missing political detainees.
Media watchdongs have scolded The Gambia government for persistently threatening Dampha's life.
“The IFJ deplores these acts of intimidation meted out to journalists in The Gambia by the state security agents,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa Office.
“Over the past few years there have been numerous arbitrary arrests and forced detentions of Gambian journalists, who continued to work under enormous pressure from the state," he said, urging the government to support the work of journalists.
“Journalists in the Gambia must be allowed to perform their duties without harassment and intimidation from the security agents as guaranteed by the Gambian Constitution. Freedom of expression and of the press in particular is an essential ingredient of any striving democracy. The undermining of these fundamental rights negates any proclamation of democratic gains in any country.”
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