The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional court has ruled that the Gambia’s draconian media laws violate the human rights of journalists.
Amnesty International (AI) declared that today’s ruling is “an historic day for Gambia’s journalists and human rights defenders who, for decades, have suffered torture, imprisonment or exile just for exercising their right to freedom of expression.”
The ruling should mark a new beginning in the relations between the new transition government of Adama Barrow and Gambian journalists at home and abroad.
We join Amnesty International in encouraging the government of Adama Barrow to waste no time in repealing these draconian laws that inhibit free flow of information and thus deny the news consuming public unfettered access so that they become better informed citizens.
A repeal of these laws, among other draconian laws that are vestiges of the colonial era such as the Public Order Act of 1955 that severely restricts the citizens’ right to assembly, will bring The Gambia in line with its international and regional responsibilities as a member of the international in good standing.
The case was filed by the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) in December 2015 on behalf of four exiled Gambian journalists during the brutal and repressive regime of Yaya Jammeh. They argued that their rights to freedom of expression had been violated by the Jammeh regime through the enforcement of laws criminalizing libel, sedition and false news.