By Yankuba Jallow
Saikou Jammeh, the Secretary-General of The Gambia Press Union (GPU) appearing before the TRRC has given a detailed narration of graphic tortures, unlawful detention, murder and enforced disappearance of journalists under the 22 – year rule of Yahya Jammeh.
He said the environment under the former Government was hostile for journalists.
“Jammeh set the tone of what was happening to journalists in The Gambia,” the media freedom activist told the TRRC.
He said one Mr. Best who was the Editor-in Chief of the Daily Observer was the first to be arrested by Jammeh. He added that the AFPRC government also passed a decree that stopped all political expression but Halifa Sallah and Sidia Jatta of the Foroyaa Newspaper defied that and were arrested, prosecuted and convicted for defying their laws.
He stated that Jammeh’s government targeted both journalists and the media houses as he had burnt some of the media house while some others were shut down.
He also explained how Jammeh continued to formulate laws in our statutes that make the work of the media very difficult such as false publication and broadcasting; this and some other laws regulating the operation of the media made speech criminal. He said some journalists were murdered while others disappeared without trace. He added that a number of journalists were tortured by agents of the former government including security personnel.
Saikou Jammeh, born in Nuimi Sitanunku started his journalism career in 2007 with The Gambia News and Report Magazine. He said in 2008, he was appointed as news editor for The Voice Newspaper and a year later, he went to The Daily News where he became the editor-in chief. He said he was with the Daily News until September 2012 when the paper was shut down by the Government.
He said he was elected the Secretary-General in 2015 and re-appointed in 2018 as the Secretary-General. He said the GPU has two mandates; trade union and professional. He said the trade union function entails representing their membership including on issues relating to labour. He added that the professional mandate entails the advocacy role for press freedom.
Foroyaa will give you a detailed report of Jammeh’s testimony before the TRRC tomorrow.