CPJ calls for Immediate & Unconditional release of Journalist Bakary Mankajang

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The Committee to Protect Journalists calls for the immediate and unconditional release of journalist Bakary Mankajang after his arrest by Gambian police in connection with his reporting on police killings.  

“Gambian authorities must swiftly and unconditionally release journalist Bakary Mankajang, drop all charges against him, and allow him to work freely,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator in Durban, South Africa, on Friday. “The detention and prosecution of Mankajang for his reporting is a chilling reminder of the country’s past under the Yahya Jammeh dictatorship and a betrayal of its democratic gains.”

Jammeh, who took over the West African nation in a 1994 coup, has been accused of multiple human rights abuses, including the killing and torture of opposition members and journalists, during his 22 years in office.

Gambian police spokesperson Modou Musa Sissawo told CPJ by phone on Friday that Mankajang remained in detention and was charged with “interference with witnesses” in connection with his reporting at Casamance, an area of Senegal south of Gambia, where Mankajang had travelled to investigate the murder of two police officers allegedly killed in Gambia by a Casamance resident.

Interference with witnesses is a misdemeanor, which carries up to two years imprisonment and a fine, according to Sections 34 and 102 of the criminal code 

Mankajang recently traveled to Casamance to conduct interviews about the killings, according to a Facebook post by the journalist and a statement by local trade group Gambia Press Union. Mankajang is an independent reporter who posts on TikTok and a Facebook page called Mankajang Daily, which collectively have about 70,000 followers.

Mankajang has been detained since officers arrested the journalist on Wednesday, September 20, after he responded to a police summons at Faji Kunda police station outside the capital, Banjul, according to the GPU statement and the journalist’s Facebook post.

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