The Gambia Press Union condemned the attack on the cameraman of Fatu Network and reporter for Radio France International (RFI) at the High Court in Banjul Monday afternoon by supporters of the former ruling party.
The two journalists were allegedly attacked by the sympathisers of the Alliance for Patriotic, Reorientation and Construction (APRC) who were at the court complex to show solidarity with Yankuba Touray, one of the founders of the party who is being tried for murder.
Touray has been accused of killing Ousman Koro Ceesay, a former finance minister, in June 1995 during the formative years of the government of Yahya Jammeh. He was then minister of Local Government and Lands.
Journalists Modou Saidy of Fatu Network, and Romain Chanson of RFI were outside the High Court complex to take footage of the APRC supporters when the militants advanced towards them.
Their cameras were almost seized and destroyed by an APRC mob and Chanson was almost pelted with a heavy stone by one of the supporters had he not take to his heels.
The GPU is concerned about the frequency at which attacks of this nature are happening. This is the second attack on journalists, allegedly, by supporters of APRC in twelve months. In August 2018, the GRTS news crew was verbally and physically assaulted, allegedly, by the supporters during funeral proceedings of late Asombi Bojang, the mother of former president, Yahya Jammeh.
The police on their part have failed to provide protection to journalists in hostile situations, nor have they investigated any of the seven previous attacks on journalists even though official complaint has been lodged in all the cases.
Mustapha K. Darboe, vice president of the GPU, said: “The Union is troubled that attacks on journalists in the execution of their professional duties by party supporters is becoming frequent.”
He said the GPU is not taking the attack on journalists by any political party lightly.
“If this is not stopped, it could warrant a media blackout for all the activities of parties guilty of such misconducts,” he affirmed.
The GPU is calling on political parties to take proactive measures to educate and sensitise their supporters to understand that journalists are not enemies.
Meanwhile, the Union’s leadership has engaged the deputy public relations officer of the APRC, Dodou Jah, and he expressed regret over the conduct of their party supporters towards Saidy and Chanson.
However, Jah said that the APRC as a party has been known to be peaceable and would continue to conduct its activities in such manners.
He promised to talk with the party leadership to reiterate their call for the party militants to continue to conduct and comport themselves in peaceful manner.