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Monday, 10 September 2012

IPI concerned at journalist detentions in the Gambia

Babucarr Ceesay and Abubacarr Saidykhan reportedly held by police 

By: Naomi Hunt, Senior Press Freedom Adviser

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, Sep 10, 2012 – The International Press Institute expressed its concern over the arrest of two Gambian journalists reported by journalists and local media over the weekend.

Babucarr Ceesay and Abubacarr Saidykhan were detained by police on either Thursday or Friday, depending on reports, shortly after filing an application at the station to demonstrate against the recent execution of nine prisoners. The inmates, who were killed by firing squad on August 24, were the first to be executed in The Gambia for almost thirty years, reports said.  

Babucarr Ceesay is the vice president of the Gambia Press Union, runs a website called the Gambia Watchdog, reports for the Africa Review, and recently created a Facebook page called Gambia Free Expression, according to reports received by email and on The Gambia Echo news website. The Facebook page has around 70 members. Saidykhan is a freelance and “activist journalist“ who, like Ceesay, used to work for Foroyaa newspaper, Jollof News online reported.  

Reports say the pair were subjected to interrogation. The International Federation of Journalists released a statement about the journalists on Sunday, at which time they reported that the pair was still in custody.

“We are deeply concerned for the well-being of Babucarr Ceesay and Abubacarr Saidykhan,“ said IPI Deputy Director Anthony Mills. “We remind the Gambian police that the journalists have a right to freedom of expression and press freedom and shouldn’t be targeted for their work.“