At least five people, including journalist Fatou Touray, CEO of the online Kerr Fatou, and two social media commentators, have been charged with publishing the identity of a child whose case is before the country’s Children’s Court and for publication of proceedings before the Brikama Children’s Court.
According to the Bill of Indictment seen by the Alkamba Times, Fatou Touray (CEO of Kerr Fatou), Fatoumatta Rahman Coker of Elite Media, Fatoumatta Drammeh (Tima La Waato), Fatou Jarai Susso (Mprez Jaa) and Neneh J. Thompson, also known as Nahima Jawneh made publications without taking leave of the Court thereby committing an offense.
The Gambia’s Children Act prohibits the publication of the identity of a child whose matter is before the Children’s Court. Fatou Touray and others are said to have published the name and uniqueness of the Child through Facebook Live, a newspaper publication, and several Facebook posts by sharing and conducting the said act through such a platform using their accounts.
The women were said to be advocating as feminists for the right of a woman, who they claimed was vulnerable in a custody matter.
If found guilty, they face at least three years imprisonment and a fine of D500,000.
The criminal charges were brought against them by journalist and human rights activists Sam Patey, the father of the said Child whose identity was published. Phatey has also sued a sitting High Court judge, Justice Momodou SM Jallow for interfering in the matter before the Children’s Court, accusing him of coercing the police and unlawfully having his niece released.
Reacting to the indictment, the CEO of the online Kerr Fatou, Fatou Touray, said:
On Monday, the 25th of July, 2022, I was served with a Bench Warrant. I was not previously aware of any complaint against me professionally or personally. However, I later discovered that this resulted from a Private Criminal Prosecution instituted against the person of 4 other women and me by one Samsudeen Phatey through his Attorney, Mariama Cham.
I answered the call of the warrant at Brikama Magistrates Court and was granted bail. I have fulfilled the conditions of the bail.
The allegation against me is that I used derogatory language against the proceedings of the Brikama Children’s Court in several publications. I vehemently deny the claims and have engaged legal counsel to defend myself. I will also seek compensation and damages against Mr. Fatty in due course.
This is one of the everyday challenges we face as Media Practitioners. However, since the matter is in Court, we will abide by the Rules of the Trial Process and refrain from making any comments.”
Phatey’s ex-wife, Nahima Jawneh, faces an additional charge of unlawful removal of a child in violation of at least two existing court orders refusing to hand over the said Child to Mr. Phatey. She is on bail issued by the Children’s Court in a separate matter. Still, She has skipped the said bail and is out of jurisdiction, leaving the Child in the provincial town of Basse.