Young Journalists of The Gambia (YJAG) has condemned, in totality, the physical
assault on journalist Kebba Jeffang by militants of three political parties at
a joint press conference on Sunday.
The militants of the United Democratic Party (UDP), the National Reconciliation Party (NRP) and the Gambia Moral Congress (GMC) attacked Mr Jeffang at the end of a joint press conference they organised at the UDP Manjai Kunda bureau.
Mr Jeffang is the acting PRO as well as treasurer of YJAG.
After all the statements from the leaders of the three parties, Mr Jeffang was the first to ask questions. As soon as he introduced himself as a reporter from Foroyaa Newspaper, he was continually interrupted by supporters of the various parties who were shouting “He is sent by Halifa Sallah”
It was hard for him to put his questions across because of harassments and interruptions. Other journalists in the room were telling the wild supporters “please allow us to do our job” but they never did.
Mr Jeffang’s questions were directed at Darboe and Fatty, to clarify the cause of the split and why the coalition cannot contest in this parliamentary election.
There has never been an insult from Mr Jeffang, towards Lawyer Darboe as alleged by his supporters. He merely asked journalistic questions. The Darboe supporters decided to harass, intimidate and assault him physically.
Mr Jeffang was bullied in the presence of Darboe, Bah and Fatty before he was physically assaulted outside the conference room, but still within the premises of the compound. Their conduct is unacceptable, illegal and irresponsible.
We expect any responsible leader to condemn such an act, but none of the leaders present at the press conference advised their supporters to distance themselves from any form of violence or harassment and keep the peace when the reporter’s verbal attacks intensified…
However, sometime last month the same journalist Mr Jeffang was harassed for simply asking President Barrow to state his position on the issue of gay and lesbian rights, during the visit of the authorities of the EU.
Hamat Bah also joined the fray by shouting at the reporter at that particular event by complementing the president, as soon as he downplayed the reporter’s question.
This is not the type of Gambia we want. The media should be free to ask questions and report on issues of public interest.
Attacking the media personnel is a threat to the state because such attacks seek to suppress freedom of expression, which is the foundation of democracy.
We condemn this action in the strongest possible terms, and such actions should not be accepted in our new Gambia.
We want to register our profound disappointment and unhappiness about the action of these UDP supporters, and call on the authorities to take appropriate action and bring these culprits to justice as soon as possible without any delay; it is unacceptable conduct as well as criminal.
If action is not taken as soon as possible, we will urge on all young journalists to boycott all activities of the UDP, the NRP and GMC tactical alliance, until they are ready to take action.
We equally demand a public apology from the leaders of these three parties on the action of their supporters, most especially the UDP leadership.
We call on all Gambians and local, regional and international human rights organizations and freedom of the media organizations to stand up to demand justice for Kebba Jeffang and protect free press in The Gambia. We cannot and must not tolerate any attack against the media by anybody.
Signed by: Mr Sulayman Ceesay
Secretary General, Young Journalists Association of The Gambia (YJAG)