Your election has raised great hopes of democratic change in The Gambia and t I would like to draw your attention to a recent arrest and detention of Journalist Baboucarr Nani Sey.
I call on you to immediately and unconditionally release journalist Baboucarr Nani Sey and drop all criminal charges against him. No journalist should be imprisoned for reporting the truth or performing his duties. Allowing Mr. Şey sits behind bars is a tragedy and casts a dark shadow over The Gambia’s professed commitment to an open and democratic society.
Your excellency, we aspire that The Gambia be a proponent of democracy by enabling reporters to carry out their professions without fear of retribution and by empowering diverse voices for building a greater Gambia with tolerance, civil liberties and understanding.
This kind of arbitrary behavior cannot be overlooked because it would mean tolerating intimidation and harassment against journalists as was the case under your predecessor, Yahya Jammeh, whose long years as president were marked by many violations of human rights and freedom of expression.
The Gambia is ranked 145th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index and Yahya Jammeh was on RSF’s list of press freedom predators. Under his regime, freedom of information was repeatedly flouted, communications were cut or censored, and journalists were attacked, arrested, tortured, sentenced to death or murdered. Some, such as Chief Ebrimah Manneh, disappeared without any proper investigation by the authorities, leaving families deeply wounded.
The International community also hail the choice for the position of information, communication and technology minister, Demba Ali Jawo, a former journalist and head of the Gambia Press Union, who has promised the necessary legislative reforms.
I am being aware of the extent of the challenges you face and the wounds that the Gambian people must heal to move forward. Deep transformation is essential to turn the page on the Jammeh era and to restore Gambians’ trust in state institutions.
This is first and foremost your battle but journalists also have a key role to play in a country’s democratic life. The men and women of the media must be able to work freely to rebuild trust between Gambians, democracy and the rule of law. To this end, we hope they will have your full support.
Alagi Yorro Jallow