The Editor-in-chief of Gainako Online Newspaper, Yusuf Taylor, was arrested and charged with “obstructing a police officer” and detained for four hours at the Senegambia Police Station on Tuesday, 5 July, 2022.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Gambia Press Union (GPU) in condemning this act of aggression and intimidation against a journalist who posed no security threat.
According to a statement issued by the GPU, Taylor was arrested after police officers forcibly tried to remove him from the station’s premises and assaulted him when he tried to enquire about the detention of the Global Home of Medical Mission (GHMM) representatives Neneh Freda Gomez and Lamin Sey, whose case he has been following.
Global HoMM is involved in a dispute with the government over the ownership of a plot of land – for which the former has obtained court judgements in its favour – which the government is said to have earmarked for the construction of a hotel for the 2022 OIC Summit.
GPU President, Muhammed S. Bah, said the union condemns the actions of the officers and is dismayed by the trend of journalists being assaulted by security personnel, especially the police. “It is also a stark reminder that while the exercise of free speech and press freedom guaranteed under the 1997 Constitution has significantly improved since 2017, more needs to be done to better protect the rights of journalists who continue to come under attack from security forces for simply carrying out their constitutional duty of holding the government accountable,” Bah said.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger said that the arrest demonstrated the intolerance of security officers in allowing journalists to do their work without any form of harassment or intimidation.
He said: “The government must ensure that it creates a conducive environment for journalists to exercise their duties without fear of harassment from security officers and guarantee the safety and security of journalists.”