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The High Court of The Gambia - image courtesy of Sam SarrInternational indignation and anger at the jailing of the six Gambian journalists on charges of sedition has been growing, with many of the leading media freedom and human rights organisations condemning the sentences and calling for the immediate release of the six.

 

Protests ae being planned in Africa, Europe and the USA as part of a global campaign to free the journalists jailed for two years on sedition charges and who have just begun their two-year jail term at Banjul's Mile Two state central prison.

Amnesty International

Amnesty International (AI) says the six Gambian journalists, jailed for two years for sedition, are "prisoners of conscience".

The director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme, Erwin van der Borght, says the six are being punished for peacefully expressing their views. "They should be released immediately and unconditionally," he said.

Committee to Protect Journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned what it called the "highly politicised court verdict against six independent journalists," saying their sentencing "reflects a partisan judicial system controlled by the president."

International Federation of Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said the ruling "flies in the face of all the constitutional guarantees and the principles of press freedom and natural justice."

The IFJ described it as {josquote}"one of the darkest days in the history of African journalism."{/josquote}

The IFJ says it and its members worldwide "will continue to fight shoulder to shoulder with our Gambian colleagues until justice is done and the six journalists are released," and that it will stand alongside human rights organisations and trade unions in a series of protest activities as part of the global campaign to free the six journalists.

Reporters without Borders

Reporters Without Borders said it was appalled by the two-year jail sentences and called the court proceedings "a sham."

We will soon run out of words to express our outrage at President Yahya Jammeh’s government and its behaviour towards journalists," RSF said.

RSF has called for the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton to make a stopover in Banjul during her African tour in order to press for the release of the six.

Federation of African Journalists

The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), the African regional organisation of the IFJ, called the decision a "heavy violation of freedom of the press and trade union rights in the Gambia."

Omar Faruk Osman, FAJ President said his organisation was demanding the immediate release of our six and described the judgement as unfair and "undoubtedly politicised."

The Gambian regime has been waging a systematic state repression and injustice against Gambian journalists.

"This is unacceptable because Gambian journalists are trying to fight for press freedom, freedom of expression and fair working and living conditions,"{/josquote} Faruk said.

International Trades Union Confederation Africa

The African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) says it is outraged and deeply disturbed by the ruling. The organisation says the court proceedings were "stage managed" and "lacked any legitimacy."

"The final ruling handed down demonstrates the extent to which the independence of Gambia’s judicial system can be subject to the manipulation of the executive arm of government," the organisation said.

The ITUC-Africa is calling on the Gambian Bar Association to challenge what it calls "this obvious travesty of justice and abuse of the rule of law."

"In the same vain, we appeal once again to African leaders, ECOWAS, AU and UN to prevail on the authorities in the Gambia to release the imprisoned six journalists unconditionally."

Gambia Press Union

Yesterday the Gambia Press Union (GPU) was quick to condemned the sentences and called on International media freedom organisations to campaign for the release of Emil Touray; secretary general of the GPU; Sarata Jabbi Dibba, vice president and Pa Modou Faal, treasurer, along with journalists Pap Saine and Ebou Sawaneh, The Point’s publisher and editor respectively and Sam Sarr, editor, Foroyaa newspaper.


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