Africa News

PPF is concerned over the sentenced to prison to journalist Ceesay in The Gambia

Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) in a letter to Yahya Jammeh, President of Islamic Republic of The Gambia expressed concerned over the sentenced of four years of imprisonment to journalist Alhagie Abdoulie Ceesay.

PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali in his letter urged The Gambian government to take action against the court orders and drop charges against Ceesay.

According to Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), on November 8, 2016, a High Court in The Gambia, presided over by Justice E.O Dada sentenced Ceesay to a one year imprisonment and a fine of Dalasi 100,000 (about US$ 2,290) on count one and two. On count three to six, the journalist was sentenced to one year imprisonment and also a fine of Dalasi 100,000 (about US$2,290). Counts one to six were duplicated sedition charges. On count seven, which charges Ceesay with false publication, he was sentenced to two years in prison.

While giving the judgment, Justice Dada also said an order will be served on the police to declare Ceesay an absconder and to bring him to serve his sentence. Ceesay will therefore be arrested and be made to serve his sentence should he return to The Gambia.

Ceesay, the exiled journalist and manager of Taranga FM, was first arrested on July 2, 2015, briefly released and re-arrested on July 17, 2015 on accusation of distributing photos of you Excellency with a gun pointed at him. After a two-week detention in which Ceesay was held incommunicado with no access to a lawyer or his family, he was brought before a Magistrates Court on August 4, 2015 and charged with a single count of sedition. On November 18, while the case was still ongoing at the Magistrates Court, the state pressed a fresh seven-count charge against the journalist. These charges were a mere duplication of the first charge at the Magistrates court, except for that of “publication of false news.” The initial single count charge was later dropped.

While in detention, Ceesay was tortured and mistreated and was hospitalized on several occasions until his escape from hospital on April 21, 2016.