CPJ seeks audience with President Barrow over missing journalist Chief Manneh, others

barrow-at-airport

President Adama Barrow and his coalition of seven political parties have come to power on promises of democracy, good governance and respect for rule of law

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent press freedom advocacy organization, has written to President Adama Barrow seeking for an audience to discuss what his administration intends to do about the case of missing journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh and killed journalists Deyda Hydara.

Chief Ebrima Manneh was a Daily Observer senior reporter whom security agents reportedly took into custody in July 2006, and never seen again thereafter.

“Your predecessor’s administration repeatedly failed to account for Manneh’s whereabouts, health, or legal status. We urge you to ensure that this is done so that his family, friends, and colleagues might finally know the truth,” the advocacy group said in a letter signed by Joel Simon, their Executive Director.

About a week ago, President Barrow has granted amnesty to all political prisoners and detainees who were held without trial during the regime of the former government but Chief Manneh’s family haven’t seen him since.

Six days after the amnesty for those held illegally was declared by Barrow, his sister Adama Manneh has not found any trace of him, she told torchongambia.

The advocacy organization said a further important step in this direction would be to demonstrate that journalists cannot be killed with impunity in Gambia.

CPJ added: “Editor and columnist Deyda Hydara, a well-known critic of the Jammeh administration, was shot dead while driving home in Banjul on December 16, 2004. It has been more than 12 years, but no one has ever been brought to justice for that crime, despite a 2014 ruling from the Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice finding that Gambia failed to investigate the crime properly and calling for a renewed investigation. Though Gambia is a member of ECOWAS, your predecessor’s administration did not comply with the ruling. We encourage your government to begin a full and credible investigation immediately.”

They said they welcomed the December 5, 2016, remark Barrow made that he does not want to inherit a country where media freedom was fettered and human rights were violated with impunity.

“We were encouraged to note the January 28, 2017, release of television reporter Bakary Fatty after 74 days of detention without charge,” CPJ said.

“We also encourage you to instruct the Ministry of Justice to review the cases of all journalists who fled the country to escape politicized charges under Jammeh’s rule. They include radio journalist Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay, whom a court in November 2016 sentenced in absentia to up to four years in prison on charges of sedition and spreading “false news” for sharing–with two people–a photograph of Jammeh.”

“We hope that your administration will inaugurate a new era for Gambia’s media, one in which journalists will no longer be prosecuted, surveilled, or jailed for their work. We hope to work with you and your administration to accomplish this shared objective, and hope to hear from you or your representative soon.”

The letter was copied to African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat, Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia Fatoumata Tambajang, Ambassador of The Gambia to the United Nations Mamadou Tangara and African Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression Faith Pansy Tlakula.

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