September 16, 2012
The Civil Society Associations Gambia and Gambia Press Union
USA roundly and unequivocally condemn, as unconstitutional, the recent precipitous closures of both the Daily News and Standard Newspaper. The closures amount to extreme censorship and an infringement of the media houses’ constitutionally guaranteed rights to free speech. The CSAG and GPU-USA are under no illusion that the illegal closure of the two outstanding centers of information and education disseminations is an attempt by the regime to prevent any further coverage, in the local media, of the recent criminal executions of twenty-six innocent Mile 2 Central Prisons inmates. The broader Gambian media and civil society at home and abroad is unified in the condemnation of the illegal closures.
The murderous Gambian regime under Yahya Jammeh, which to-date has been responsible for the execution by firing squad of nearly one hundred Gambians and non-Gambians alike and the murders and assassinations of nearly one hundred more Gambians and non-Gambians since it took power in 1994, by closing the Daily News and Standard Newspaper, is showcasing its fear of allowing unsanitized and unbiased news from reaching the public, in a country whose policies of executions, murders and mayhem are shrouded in secrecy. The closure of the two outstanding newspapers will only instigate more publicity of the illegal executions of the twenty-six helpless prison inmates who were essentially sitting duck for the regime’s slaughter house.
Both the Daily News and the Standard Newspaper have over the years remained the only local newspapers that have provided Gambians at home and abroad the unfettered news that informed and educated them about the daily routine of fear, terrorism and shackling, in addition to the intermittent mass executions and frequent murders and disappearances, of Gambians and non-Gambians alike over the past seventeen years. It can also be recalled that this is not the first time the Standard Newspaper was forced to cease operations. Gambia News Online in fact only resume publication about two years ago after another long regime imposed hiatus. It is worth noting that the closure of the doors of these media houses is more than just the shuttering of their doors, the livelihoods of the employees and their families are severely affected.
In conclusion, the Civil Society Associations Gambia (CSAG) and the Gambia Press Union USA (GPU-USA) stand firmly in solidarity with the Daily News and the Standard Newspaper in the perpetual struggle for a free and unintimidated Gambian press. The two organizations further ask our partners and governments around the globe to join us in condemning the cowardly closures of both newspapers. We further make this initial plea for the imposition of stringent sanctions against The Gambian regime. A dedicated follow-up, to this initial plea, for the imposition of biting economic sanctions against the Gambian state, will in due course be make directly to all organizations and governments providing loans and grants, bilateral or unilateral to the Gambia. Meanwhile we call on the Gambian regime to cease inferring in the civil and constitutionally guaranteed rights of the Daily News and Standard Newspaper to freely operate in the Gambia.
Banka Manneh, Chairman, CSAG
Mathew K Jallow, President, GPU-USA
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Netherlands
Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) Accra, Ghana
West Africa Journalist Association (WAJA), Dakar, Senegal
President, ECOWAS, Abuja, Nigeria
President, African Union, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Africa Desk, State Department, Washington DC
Ministry of Information, Republic of Senegal, Dakar