Gambia ALERT: Newspaper publisher detained again, court grants him bail

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Abdul Hamid Adiamoh, publisher and editor of Today, a privately-owned, Banjul-based newspaper was arrested for the third time on August 26, 2008 and held overnight at a police station in Serrekunda, Gambia’s second largest city.
Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) sources reported that Adiamoh was granted bail on August 27, by the Kanifing Magistrate court in the sum of 200,000 Gambian Dalasis (approx, 9,500US$) and one surety.

The reason for Adiamoh’s criminal charges was that his newspaper published an article and photographs about some Gambian children who often abandoned school to search for metal scraps in waste dumps.

Adiamoh, a Nigerian, who has been charged with “publishing with seditious intention”, will reappear in court on September 10.

The reasons for Adiamoh’s latest arrest and subsequent detention remain unclear. However, he had been previously arrested and detained on two occasions.

The sources said Adiamoh was initially arraigned before the Banjul Magistrate court, but the presiding judge transferred the matter to the Kanifing court which has been handling cases involving journalists and the media. 

The Kanifing court presided over by Justice Buba Jawo has been notorious in imposing outrageous fines on journalists. Last week (August 18), Buba Jawo convicted Fatou Jaw Manneh, a female US-based Gambian journalist, following her criticism of President Yahya Jammeh and his administration. The same court also convicted Lamin Fatty, a reporter of the banned Banjul-based The  Independent newspaper in 2007.

Meanwhile, MFWA has learned that the publisher has been harassed by the authorities ever since he employed Buya Jammeh. Jammeh, then working for the pro-government Daily Observer, was dismissed for being an executive member of the Gambian Press Union (GPU).

Media Foundation for West Africa