With files from Committee to Protect Journalists and IPI
Posted by Pat Perkel
Freelance Gambian journalist Abubacarr Saidykhan was threatened at his doorstep by four strangers in an unmarked vehicle who called him “a very stubborn journalist” and threatened that “your head will be hammered” by a “patriotic killer” if he fails to heed warnings.
Saidykhan has written a series of articles about opposition to Gambian President Yahya Jammeh’s decision to execute death row prisoners. In September, he and colleague Baboucarr Ceesay were arrested and charged with incitement to violence. Those charges have since been dropped.
Both the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Press Institute reported and condemn the death threats against Saidykhan.
The alleged death threat is the latest in a string of threats and harassment against the media in The Gambia.
In April the CJA issued a statement to Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma, supporting an urgent call for immediate legal and institutional reform to bring The Gambia’s media laws in line with international standards.
The CJA also asked the Secretary General to seek commitment from President Jammeh on human rights and removal of prosecution for sedition and criminal libel.
Threats and attacks on the media in The Gambia began escalating in December 2004 when Deyda Hydara, a prominent editor, was killed. There has been no prosecution of that murder.
A BBC correspondent was expelled, while one radio station and two Gambian newspapers were shut down in September of this year for reporting on the controversy over prisoner executions.
The CPJ reports that state security agents, supporters of the ruling party and the President himself have all targeted journalists and newspapers with threats and arrests.
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