Muhammed MS Bah, President Gambia Press Union
Fajara, 1st June 2023 – The Gambia Press Union has received reports of assaults on two journalists, Malick B.Cham of the online platform, Jamano, and Pa Ousman Joof of Gambian Talents TV (GTTV) while they were covering the swearing-in ceremony of the Mayor and councillors of the Banjul City Council on 31st May, 2023.
Both Joof, who said he was slapped, and Cham, who was beaten and injured on his nose and lips, alleged that the perpetrators of the assault are suspected to be supporters of the ruling National People’s Party (NPP).
In interviews with Voice Out Digital, another online platform, both journalists said they would take action against their attackers, and the GPU is informed that the matter has been officially reported to the police in Banjul.The attack on the journalists followed a fight that broke at the ground of the swearing-in of the councillors, which the journalists tried to capture on video.
“The GPU condemns the attacks on the journalists in the strongest terms and is dismayed by the unfortunate and never-ending trend of journalists being assaulted by political party supporters or at political events with impunity,” GPU President, Muhammed S. Bah, said.
“Since the matter has been reported to the police, we urge the police to follow through with investigations and to ensure that the perpetrators are prosecuted in order to break the cycle of impunity for crimes against journalists in The Gambia,” Bah said.
Of the 15 assault cases on journalists recorded by the GPU from 2017 to 2022, not a single one of them has been investigated and no one has ever been held accountable for these crimes which are mainly perpetratedby political parties and the police force.
“The Gambia Government must ensure that the safety of journalists, like that of other citizens and residents of The Gambia is made a top priority,” GPU Secretary General, Modou S. Joof, said.
“In order to break from the brutal past, the government must be committed to ending impunity and to create a safer environment for the media to carry out its constitutional mandate without harassment, intimidation, and assaults,” Joof said.
The GPU also urges political party leaders and executive committees to take concrete measures in ensuring journalists covering their events or events they are involved in are free from intimidation, physical and verbal attacks – in line with commitments they have made in series of GPU engagements with political parties on the safety of journalists in the last three years.