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Gambia’s rights commission urges Gov’t to probe attack on journalists

Emmanuel Joof, the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission
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The human rights commission of the Gambia has urged Gambian authorities to investigate physical attacks on three journalists on the presidential tour which happened last week.

In a statement signed by the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Emmanuel Joof, the Commission said the attack constitute a “threat to press freedom and therefore unacceptable in a democratic society”.

“Journalists play a pivotal role in our democratisation process and their work must be respected by all and sundry as expected in a democratic society,” said the NHRC on Tuesday.

The attacks were against three journalists working for Kerr Fatou, The Gambia Talent Promotion and Paradise Radio covering the President’s ongoing tour. The attack happened on the 21 of November at the Janjangbureh – Lamin Koto ferry crossing point.

The journalists were reportedly attacked by members of the Barrow Youth for National Development.

The Gambia Press Union issued a statement last week condemning the attack and asked the authorities to investigate the incident.

On Monday, the spokesperson of the Government, Ebrima Sankareh, issued a statement of apology to media houses and journalists affected.

NHRC said it commends the State for issuing a press release clarifying issues and condemning the act.

“NHRC calls upon all political party supporters and everyone to respect the rights and freedoms of journalists as guaranteed by law and to avoid actions that compromise their individual safety. We also call on the Government to investigate this incident and bring the perpetrators to justice in order to avoid future recurrence,” said the NHRC.

“The NHRC urges the authorities to ensure that journalists covering the Presidential tour, and any future activities, can do their work without fear of attack.”

The NHRC, established by an Act of the National Assembly in 2017, is an independent and permanent institution which is mandated to promote, monitor, investigate and protect human rights, as well as create a culture of human rights in The Gambia.

Its other functions include recommending appropriate remedial action to the Government regarding a human rights violation, seeking appropriate redress on behalf of victims, and assisting the Government in the formulation of appropriate policies and laws to guarantee human rights.

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