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Thursday, 16 August 2012

Gambia closes Teranga FM for the second time

Radio station broadcast show that reviewed local independent newspaper reports 

Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh (R) talks to African Union Commission Chairman Jean Ping of Gabon during an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) meeting, where the Mali crisis and Guinea-Bissau's coup are discussed, in Abidjan April 26, 2012. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

VIENNA, Aug 16, 2012 – The Gambian authorities have closed Teranga FM for the second time after warning the radio station to stop a program that translated reports from local newspapers into local languages.

The International Press Institute (IPI) expressed its dismay at the news, and called on the authorities to recognise citizens’ right under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to seek and receive information “through any media and regardless of frontiers”.

Plainclothes officers who identified themselves as members of the National Intelligence Agency reportedly arrived at the station late on Tuesday, Aug. 14, and ordered the station to shut down, news reports sent to IPI said.

The owner, Ismaila Sisay (also spelled Ismaila Ceesay), told The Standard newspaper: “I do not know [why the station was closed]. But I feel very bad about the closure of the radio. This will tarnish the image of our country and as a democratic nation there should be issues we must talk about.”  

As IPI reported at the time, Teranga FM was shut down in January 2011 for similar reasons. One journalist IPI spoke with at the time explained that the station’s work translating English-language reports into Wollof and Mandinka was uniquely important because of high illiteracy rates. In August 2011, the station was asked to cease its review of local independent newspaper reports.