Gambian Police Arrest Brother of Exiled Journalist

Security officers drawn from the Gambian Police Service on December 8, 2012 stormed the Banjul residence of exiled freelance journalist Abubacarr Saidykhan, and arrested and detained his younger brother, Ousman Saidykhan, at the Kairaba police station, 12 kilometres from the capital, Banjul.

According to the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)’s sources, Ousman Saidykhan was later released without charge on December 11 under a bail bond of 50,000 Dalasis (approximately US$ 1,600).

The sources indicated that Saidykhan’s arrest was due to his inability to disclose the whereabouts of his elder brother after the police officers demanded to know from him Abubacarr’s hideout.

It will be recalled that Abubacarr Saidykhan together with the vice president of the Gambian Press Union (GPU), Baboucarr Ceesay, were exonerated of criminal charges of “conspiracy to commit felony”, “inciting violence” and “seditious publications” after their arrest and detention on September 10, 2012. The arrest of the two followed their request to peacefully demonstrate against the execution of nine death row inmates in the Gambia.

Subsequently, Abubacarr was forced to flee the country due to continued threats on his life by unknown persons alleged to be working with the police.

The MFWA remains very concerned about the safety of Abubacarr and his family and is outraged by the general environment of repression in the Gambia under President Yahya Jammeh.

The Executive Director of the MFWA, Prof. Kwame Karikari, has described the frequent attacks on journalists, the dire human rights environment and culture of impunity in the Gambia as extremely disturbing. He called on rights groups, governments, and the regional governmental group, ECOWAS, to take immediate steps to end the culture of impunity and repression in The Gambia.