The Gambia Press Union (GPU) has petitioned President Adama Barrow’s administration to safeguard the freedom of expression.
GPU Secretary-General Saikou Jammeh said the intolerance and disrespect of journalists were cancers the new president must slay before they destroy the country.
Mr Jammeh was reacting to a weekend assault on Foroyaa newspaper reporter Kebba Jeffang by the supporters of the United Democratic Party (UDP) at a press conference at the party office in Manjai, Kanifing municipality.
UDP is President Barrow’s party that united with six others to win the December presidential election.
“It is regrettable that UDP supporters assaulted the Foroyaa reporter. The GPU will respond appropriately. Justice must be done,” said Mr Jammeh on a Facebook posting.
The assault happened barely 46 days after the swearing-in of President Barrow, which raised Gambians’ hope for the respect of their freedoms after 22 years of the oppressive Yahya Jammeh rule.
ThePoint newspaper reporter, Ms Kaddijatou Jawo, who witnessed the incident, said: “I stood watching helplessly while they assaulted my comrade Kebba Jeffang for simply asking a question, while other supporters hurled insults at him.”
She said Mr Jeffang sustained injuries and his shirt was torn, leaving him embarrassed.
Ms Jawo said it was disturbing that the assault happened in the presence of ministers who just sat watching.
Ms Halimatou Ceesay, a young journalist with The Point, regretted that when the politicians were behind bars and facing trumped up charges under Jammeh, it was the journalists who highlighted their plight.
“But now that they are in power, they don’t know how to control their supporters,” said.
Human rights activist Madi Jobarteh said the assault was unacceptable and totally unbecoming of the new Gambia they wished to build.
He urged GPU, the Foroyaa newspaper and the reporter to pursue the matter to the highest level to ensure that justice was delivered.
“We cannot condone any more harassment of the media and journalists,,” said Mr Jobarteh.
UDP head of media, publicity and communication Malick Shyngle Nyassi apologised to Mr Jeffang on Facebook.
He said: “The fundamental pillar to our democracy should constitute a free and independent press.”
Source: Africa Review