Thugs Threaten To Kill Gambian Journalist

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Christophe Deloire: Gambian authorities must protect journalists & press freedom/Imgres

Questions have been raised about what Gambian authorities have done concerning the increasing threats and intimidation against journalists Abubacarr Saidykhan and Baboucarr Ceesay. The journalists received death threats by email in October. In fact, Saidykhan has since been receiving threats.

The Paris-based Reporters sans frontiers (RSF) is amazed that the “presence of police who are supposed to protect Mr. Saidykhan has had no deterrent effect on those responsible for the threats, and calls on the authorities to accept that they have a duty to take effective action.”

Saidykhan has been under close watch for weeks by unidentified men often stationed outside his home. Few days ago, a car pulled up next to Saidykhan as he was standing at this gate, and one of the four men inside talked to him bluntly.

“We told you that we would come for you without any further warning. We have learned that you are a very stubborn journalist. The next time we meet you, your head will be hammered by one of our patriotic killers. Just continue to ignore our warnings.”

In a statement, RSF’s Secretary General Christophe Deloire said, “The increase in the threats received by Saidykhan is symptomatic of the decline in the situation of the media in Gambia since August. “ The boldness of these ‘patriotic killers’ – supporters of President Yahya Jammeh bent on using death threats to terrorize journalists – is indicative of the impunity and protection they enjoy.”

The media rights body called on Gambian authorities, who have been given a “description of the vehicle and its licence plate number, to take all necessary stops to identify the passengers. A failure to react would show that these thugs were sent by the government and that Saidykhan is on his own and has no effective protection.”

It could be recalled that shortly before his December 2004 assassination, Deyda Hydara, the Editor of The Point newspaper received threats similar to those that Saidykhan has been receiving.

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