20 April 1998


Radio owner on trial

Incident details

Baboucar Gaye, Ebrima Sillah


legal action

(IPI/IFEX) - IPI is most concerned about the case of Baboucar Gaye, the
proprietor of Citizen FM, and the continued closure of his radio station.

**Updates IFEX alerts of 3 March, and 9, 13 and 19 February 1998**

Baboucar Gaye and Ebrima Sillah, news editor of Citizen FM, were arrested by
members of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) on Thursday, 5 February
1998. Sillah was released on 7 February and Gaye on 9 February, but Gaye was
detained again on 10 February, and finally released on 12 February.

NIA officials and armed soldiers sealed off Citizen FM on 6 February,
ordering all staff members to leave the premises, which is shared by the
"New Citizen" newspaper. The premises remain closed and under armed guard.
As a result, the "New Citizen", which Baboucar publishes, has been locked
out of its offices and cannot operate.

The detention of Gaye and Sillah came shortly after a story was broadcast on
Citizen FM claiming that the NIA's Director of Operations had been sacked in
connection with an alleged counterfeit scandal. The Ministry for
Information, in consultation with the Ministry for Justice, issued an
official statement justifying the closure of the station on the grounds that
the broadcasting of rumors was "irresponsible" and "deceptive" on the
part of the two journalists, and that it violated national security
interests as well as the conditions under which radio and newspaper licenses
are issued.

Gaye was brought to court on 5 March and charged with operating a radio
station without a licence under a law dating back to colonial times, the
1913 Telegraph Station Act, which states: "If any person establishes a
telegraph station without a license ... he shall be liable to a fine of
1,000 dalasis or to imprisonment, with our without hard labour, for a term
not exceeding 12 months and in either case is liable to forfeit any
apparatus for telegraphy installed or worked without a licence". Gaye has
pleaded not guilty to the charge and his case has been adjourned to 20 April

IPI believes that the continued closure of Citizen FM, is a violation of
everyone's right to
seek, receive and impart information, as guaranteed by the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to authorities:

  • urging that all charges against Gaye are dropped immediately and
    unconditionally, that Citizen FM is allowed to resume broadcasting, and that
    restrictions, through licensing
    or other certification procedures, which limit the right to freely gather
    and distribute information, are eliminated

    Appeals To

    H.E. Yahya Jammeh
    President of The Gambia
    The Gambia
    Fax: +220 227 034

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

  • Source

    International Press Institute
    Spiegelgasse 2
    1010 Vienna
    ipi (@) freemedia.at
    Fax:+43 1 5129014
    The Gambia

    IFEX members working in this country 1

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