By Ndey Sowe
The Gambia Press Union (GPU) has called on the leadership of the UDP to facilitate the return of photojournalist Mr. Dumbuya’s confiscated equipment, urging the party to encourage their supporters to refrain from assaulting journalists during their line of duty.
This call came in the wake of reports on the 6 December, 2021, that a freelance photojournalist Lamin Dumbuya, was physically assaulted by supporters of the United Democratic Party (UDP) at the residence of their party leader Ousainou ANM Darboe in Pipeline.
The GPU issued a statement on the attacks on journalist by supporters of UDP and the Police, by condemning in the strongest terms, the actions of UDP supporters responsible for the assault on Mr. Dumbuya and the destruction of his camera
The supporters who assaulted Dumbuya also confiscated and damaged a number of his equipment including two other cameras. The UDP supporters and sympathizers who gathered at the residence of Mr. Darboe, showed their dissatisfaction over the result of the 4 December presidential election as announced by the Independent Electoral Commission.
As a photojournalist, Dumbuya was at the scene to document the incident. In the process, he was compelled to take refuge inside the residence of Mr. Darboe after some officers of the Gambia Police Force fired teargas on UDP supporters in an attempt to forcefully disperse the crowd.
It was at this time of taking refuge that some UDP supporters claimed the photojournalist was a sympathizer of the National People’s Party (NPP) and physically assaulted him, confiscating and damaging his professional camera in the process.
“The GPU condemns in the strongest terms the actions of UDP supporters responsible for the assault on Mr. Dumbuya and the destruction of his camera. These actions by the UDP supporters continued the unfortunate trend of assault on journalists by political party supporters,” GPU statement indicated; that the GPU also condemns the use of teargas and other forms of violence to disperse crowds by officers of the Gambia Police Force, which led to the hospitalization of two other journalists who inhaled the toxic fumes.
“We would like to call on the Gambia Police Force to desist from using undue force in the performance of their duty, and exercise restraint in dispersing crowds,” GPU President Muhammed S. Bah said.
He said the GPU is committed, ready and willing to continue engaging state authorities and political party leaders with a view to promoting an enabling environment for press freedom, especially when it come to the safety of journalists.