The Gambia Press Union has confirmed that The Gambia government through the Minister for Justice, has paid the dalasi equivalent of US$25,000 each to four Gambian journalists on Tuesday.
In February last year, the Ecowas Court of Justice based in Abuja, Nigeria, ordered the government to pay compensation of US$25,000 to Fatou Camara, Lamin Fatty, Alagie Jobe and Fatou Jaw Manneh for violation of their rights to press freedom.
The four journalists were variously charged and prosecuted under anti-free speech laws that the sub-regional court condemned as undemocratic, ruling that their enforcement constitutes a violation of freedom of press.
Fatou Camara, one of the journalists, said: “I am glad that The Gambia has endorsed the Ecowas court judgment. I hope this serves as a lesson for governments to allow journalists do our work without harassment and intimidation. Our rights to freedom of expression, liberty, and freedom of movement should always be respected.”
The suit against the government was filed in 2015 by the Federation of African Journalists together with the then four exiled journalists. It came about following consultations between the Gambia Press Union and Media Legal Defence Initiative, who supported the GPU to launch a similar suit filed by the GPU here at the Supreme Court of The Gambia.
Sheriff Bojang Jr, the GPU president said: “The payment of the compensation to these four journalists is an important step towards addressing the crimes committed against journalists, who have suffered enormously under the former government. This move by the government is highly appreciated and we encourage them to swiftly deal with other pending payments, including the one for Musa Saidykhan and the completion of payment for the family of Deyda Hydara.”