Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Gambian government bans RFI

From Blogger News Network

The Gambia Government has resumed its crackdown on the press, as it banned Radio France International relay FM Station, which is aired on state radio, the Freedom Newspaper can reveal. The decision to band the popular radio comes amidst a story reported by the Paris based Radio France International that the terrorists who murdered the four French Nationals in Mauritania escaped through Guinea Bissau to The Gambia. RFI’S affiliate station in The Gambia has ceased to function since the reportage of the said story. The Government of The Gambia in a statement accuses RFI of “professional dishonesty and erroneous reporting. “ RFI is yet to react to the Government’s accusations.

A release from the Department of State for Information, rebuffed the RFI story describing as it as erroneous. The Government says there was no terrorists from Mauritania and therefore strongly disputed the authenticity of the RFI story. It says it had accordingly drawn the attention of the RFI about the “erroneous” story it reported about the Gambia.

RFI ceased to be on the airwaves since January 15TH 2008. Information Ministry sources say the decision to ban RFI in The Gambia emanates from the President. “ The Government has decided to suspend the operations of the RFI affiliate station housed by the Gambia Radio and Television Services for security reasons. The President was very upset when he heard on the radio that the killers of the French Nationals were harbored in the Gambia. His Government has been linked to welcoming Hezbollah terrorists into the country and they thought that the best way to punish RFI was to take off its relay station from the airwaves. He has given directive for all RFI programs to be suspended with immediate effect. SOS Gaye has since advised her staff to cease to broadcast RFI programs.” said a well placed source at the State House in Banjul.

Here is Reporters Without Borders overview for the year 2006 for journalism in Gambia.

Ten journalists arrested, one missing, many others in exile, countless unsolved murders for which supporters of the president are suspected of responsibility or complicity, the memory of a murdered journalist besmirched by the government and a permanent climate of fear: this is the terrible track record of President Yahya Jammeh’s as far as press freedom is concerned.

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