Civil society organisation, Gom Sa Bopa, has called on Gambian citizens to resist attempts to plunge the country back to dictatorship.
The call came as President Barrow intensified his threats and crackdown on the media and those critical of his administration with the latest being the arrest and detention of activist Madi Jobarteh.
“Since President Adama Barrow’s statement threatening to re-arrest his critics even after being granted bail by a judge in late September 2023, people have been arrested and harassed for no justifiable reason whatsoever,” Gom Sa Bopawrote in a statement released yesterday.
“Madi Jobarteh is the latest critic who was arrested this morning 9th October 2023 after Police questioned him at his house on Friday. Since Police visited Madi on Friday he has been resisting the illegal arrest and questioning which Police say is because of his “Facebook post” but failed to identify the actual Facebook post.”
In the face of these incidents, Team Gom Sa Bopa added: “Given the history of dictatorship which The Gambia has been through and the findings of the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, our movement Gom Sa Bopa is calling on all citizens and residents of The Gambia who believe in the rule of law to be prepared to resist any attempts to plunge our country back into dictatorship. We say #NeverAgain to unwarranted arrests of citizens for freely expressing themselves and calling every single individual to action.”
The statement detailed the arrests and detention of citizen journalist Bakary Mankajang, and other critics like Alhagie Bora Sisawo.
“It’s now clear that the president has not only ignored the warnings from the Human Rights Commission and the Gambia Bar Association but is going full steam ahead to re-arrest his critics,” Gom Sa Bopa said.
The movement called on the government to take all necessary steps as part of the TRRC recommendations and ensure that all journalists are able to freely exercise their right to freedom of expression without fear of arrest, detention, intimidation, or harassment.
They also called on the government to: “Provide comprehensive training and reform of the security sector to understand journalism and the importance of freedom of expression in a democratic government. Reform the Criminal Code to fully protect media freedom and freedom of expression, in particular by decriminalising sedition and defamation, ensuring that individuals’ reputational interests can only be safeguarded through civil litigation, in conformity with international human rights law.”