Newsletter September 2009

Newsletter September 2009

(Partly in Danish/partly in English)

De seks fængslede benådet

Af Lars Møller

I anledning af ramadanen benådede Gambias præsident forleden de seks journalister, der i august blev idømt to års fængsel og bøder på 20.000 dollars – hver.

Torsdag den 3. september klokken ni om aftenen blev de seks fængslede journalister løsladt fra Mile Two Prison, der har ry som et af Afrikas helveder på jorden.

  • En af dem er GPU’s vice-præsident Sarata Jabbi-Dibba, der er mor til en baby på otte måneder.
  • En anden er GPU’s astmatiske generalsekretær, Emil Touray.
  • Kassereren Pa Modou Fall blev også løsladt.
  • Den hjertesyge udgiver af den uafhængige avis the Point, Pap Saine, slap også ud af fængslet, sammen med sin redaktør Ebrima Sawaneh.
  • Endelig blev den gamle redaktør af oppositionsavisen Foroyaa (Frihed), Sam Sarr, løsladt. En reporter fra samme avis, Abubakar Saidykhan, der blev arresteret samtidig med de andre, slap fri på et tidligere tidspunkt.
  • De løsladte var alle ved godt mod og godt helbred.

Nye trusler mod GPU
I anledning af den muslimske fastemåned benådede Gambias præsident Jammeh de seks både de to års fængselsstraf og den enorme bøde på 20.000 US-dollars.

Gambias indenrigsminister, Ousman Sonko, priste i en tale præsident Jammeh for hans humanitære gestus og talte videre om ”ansvarlig journalistik”.

Dagen efter sagde Jammeh, at medierne skulle huske på, at de kan stilles til regnskab. Læs også interviewet længere nede med præsidenten, hvor han den 22. juli på den nationale tv-station GRTS kaldte de seks for rotter.

GPU kæmper videre
Den løsladte generalsekretær, Emil Touray, sagde i en kommentar, at myndighederne skulle anerkende GPU for hvad det er; en fagforening, der søger at forbedre journalisternes status og velfærd, mere end en oppositions-virksomhed.
Han pointerede samtidigt, at GPU fortsat vil arbejde for reformer af medieloven og for, at regeringen og politiet forbedrer mediernes sikkerhed.

I en pressemeddelelse dagen efter hylder GPU de seks: ”We salute their courage, perseverance and determination of personal sacrifice as a contribution to our fight for media and its related freedoms in The Gambia.”

GPU takker for støtten
Samtidig takker GPU de hundredvis af foreninger, diplomatiske missioner og enkeltpersoner, der har støttet GPU og de seks fængslede.
En tak går også til Games, blandt mange andre.
Games har deltaget i Skype-konferencer og holdt møder herhjemme. Vi har rejst økonomisk støtte gennem International Media Support, og har med held søgt at øge det diplomatiske pres gennem EU. Vi har støttet de landflygtige og været i dialog med de få tilbageblevne medlemmer af GPU’s bestyrelse. Endelig har vi været i løbende kontakt med GPU’s præsident i de forskellige lande, hun nu måtte befinde sig i – med rådgivning, coaching og feedback. Og ind mellem bare trøst og opmuntring.

Analyse: Jammeh vandt fem gange

Af Lars Møller

Med løsladelsen af de seks dømte journalister er det lykkes præsident Jammeh på en gang at vinde sympati i offentligheden, fastholde dommen og undgå en pinlig appelsag.

Jammeh

Siden journalisterne blev arresteret i juli har medie- og ytringsfrihedsorganisationer over hele verden protesteret. De er gode til det, og de sprøjter protesterne ud.

Det er rigtig godt.

Games har også protesteret. En gang. Som det fremgår af Games ret personlige protest forsøger vi at handle frem for bare at snakke. Ofte i samarbejde med IMS, der er lige så handlingsorienteret.

Noget er lykkes. Andet ikke. Games har uden held forsøgt at skabe en koalition af europæiske organisationer, som skulle lægge pres på de europæiske charter-selskaber, så de igen ville lægge pres på Gambias præsident.

Games har også været i løbende kontakt med det danske udenrigsministerium og undervejs mødtes med den danske ambassadør til Gambia og lederen af Udenrigsministeriets Afrika-kontor – og snakket med dem om, hvordan man kan øge det diplomatiske pres på Gambia.

Diplomatiet pressede på
Og Danmark har presset på. Det diplomatiske pres er dels gået gennem det svenske EU-formandskab og videre i form af en protest, eller demarche, som det hedder på diplomat-sprog, som fysisk er afleveret af det britiske Højkommissariat i Banjul.

Om det er det internationale pres eller ramadanen, der har fået Gambia præsident Jammeh til at løslade de seks journalister, kan kun han selv vide.

Jammeh har aldrig haft andet end foragt tilovers for det internationale samfund. Han svarede slet ikke, da EU protesterede med en såkaldt demarche kort efter arrestationen af journalisterne i juli. Den britiske Højkommissær i Banjul afleverede endog sin demarche i en koordineret aktion med USA, som afleverede en tilsvarende protest samtidigt.

The whole world can go to hell
I stedet for at svare officielt langede Jammeh ud efter de vestlige lande i et tv-interview i Gambias stats-tv. I interviewet påkaldte Jammeh sig Allah og kritiserede de vestlige lande for at råbe op om pressefriheden, mens de selv i sikkerhedens navn deporterer muslimer, bare fordi de siger deres mening under fredagsbønnen.

Den 44-årige Yahya Jammeh er kendt for at sidde verdenssamfundet overhørig. Efter et bragende genvalg i 2006 sagde den tidligere kup-leder ved sin første pressekonference efter valget: ‘Let me tell you one thing. The whole world can go to hell. If I want to ban any newspaper, I will, with good reason.’

En regn af protester
På den anden side så fortsatte EU og USA det diplomatiske pres på Gambia. Det samme gjorde mange andre. Protesterne har regnet ned over Jammeh. Det skyldes i høj grad et effektivt lobby-arbejde fra GPU.

Foreningen præsident, Ndey Tapha Sosseh, har netværket med et væld af internationale organisationer. Hun har personligt rejst mellem flere vestafrikanske hovedstæder, og hun har talt GPU’s sag ved den vestafrikanske samarbejdsorganisation ECOWAS.

Gennem netværket af journalistorganisationer har hun endog søgt at få arabiske kollegaer til at bede Libyens Muammar Gaddafi om at hviske sin ven i Gambia et og andet i øret.

Måske har noget af det virket.

Måske har protesterne og det diplomatiske pres gjort indtryk præsidenten.

Jammehs fem gode grunde
Måske har Jammeh bare vundet så meget, at han roligt kan stille det internationale samfund tilfreds uden at tabe noget som helst. Alt tyder på, at Jammeh har opnået, hvad han ville.

1. Jammeh ramte medierne hårdt
Med hele sagen er det lykkes det enevældige styre at ramme både de uafhængige medier og et GPU, der gennem de sidste år har vokset sig stærk – blandt andet støttet af Games.

De seks journalister er allerede straffet hårdt på det personlige plan. De har siddet en måned i et rædselsfuldt fængsel – med udsigt til at sidde der to år. Og måske to eller fire år mere, hvis de ikke kunne betale de uhyrlige bøder.
Signalet til de gambiske medier er ikke til at tage fejl af. Og oveni købet mindede Jammeh dem dagen efter løsladelsen om, at de til enhver tid kan stilles til regnskab.

2. Jammeh viser sit gode hjerte
Samtidig fremstår præsidenten med løsladelsen som vinderen, der tilgiver de fortabte.

Det er ikke uden effekt i et land, hvor præsidenten selv kontrollerer det billede, som landets befolkning får af ham gennem radio og tv. Præsident Jammeh har kontrolleret det landsdækkende radio og tv egenhændigt, siden han sidste år lagde Informationsministeriet ind under sit eget kontor.

Det var også her på GRTS (Gambian Radio and TV Services), at han måneden før dehumaniserede de anklagede journalister og kaldte dem rotter, der misbruger pressefriheden. Og rotter, dem kan man gøre med, hvad man vil. Ja, man har faktisk en pligt til at jage og udrydde dem, hvis de kommer for tæt på.

3. De løsladte journalister er stadig skyldige
Selv om de er frie, er de løsladte journalister stadig dømt skyldige.
At journalisterne blev benådet både to års fængselsstraf og en enorm bøde på 20.000 US-dollars ændrer ikke ved, at retten har fundet dem skyldige i samtlige anklager om at publicere undergravende og ærekrænkende informationer.
Det er usandsynligt, at de efter løsladelsen får dommen prøvet ved appelretten, sådan som det skulle ske, når Gambias højesteret mødes i oktober.

4. Dommen truer fortsat GPU
Problemet med den manglende frifindelse er ikke bare akademisk.
Det betyder, at GPU’s præsident, Ndey Tapha Sosseh, risikerer at blive dømt efter de samme anklager – hvis hun vover at vende hjem fra Mali. Her arbejder hun som konsulent for West African Journalists Association (WAJA).
Hendes lille søn er i Gambia, hvor han passes af hendes søster og mor.
Det betyder også, at den flygtede journalist Buya Jammeh står i samme situation.

Den 28-årige Buya Jammeh er reporter på avisen Today og medlem af GPU’s bestyrelse. Han tog flugten til Senegal, da efterretningstjenesten National Intelligence Agency, NIA, opsøgte hans bopæl kort efter arrestationen af kollegaerne fra GPU.

5. Jammeh undgik en appel-retssag
Med løsladelsen undgår Jammeh, at sagen ender for appelretten, landets højeste retsinstans, som de seks har anket dommen til. Her har Jammeh tidligere tabt en sag om en forfatningsstridig medielovgivning. Meget tyder på, at Jammeh kontrollerede den domstol, der dømte de seks.

De var først anklaget for byretten, Kanifing Magistrates Court. Men pludselig og helt uden sidestykke i retshistorien blev sagen flyttet op i landsretten, High Court. Her var dommerne på et tidligere tidspunkt blevet fyret og erstattet med håndplukkede, nigerianske dommere.
Ved at løslade journalisterne undgår Jammeh en ikke usandsynlig desavouering af sine egne dommeres kendelse.

GPU kæmper videre
GPU er dog ikke en knækket organisation. På det juridiske plan har GPU klaget over de nigerianske dommere og en uretfærdig rettergang til advokatnævnene i Nigeria og Vestafrika – the Nigerian Bar Association og the West African Bar Association.

GPU vil også rejse en sag ved den fælles, vestafrikanske domstol, the ECOWAS Court, for at prøve lovligheden af flere af de love, som de gambiske medier bliver dømt efter.

Internationalt har GPU styrket sit netværk, der er villige til at gå langt for at støtte GPU. Nu er spørgsmålet så, hvordan GPU bedst udnytter den støtte.

Games og IMS, International Media Support, støtter GPU’s bestræbelser på at gennemføre et seminar i Banjul, der skal samle civilsamfundet i en fælles undersøgelse af, hvordan de bedst kan samarbejde, så ingen af dem ender i fængsel i fremtiden.

Nyt Games-projekt styrker GPU
På det hjemlige plan er samarbejdet med civilsamfunds-organisationerne gjort til en vigtig del af strategien for det projekt, ”Media for Development – Development for Media”, som Games og GPU har fået en million danske kroner til at føre ud i livet.

Midt under krisen søsatte vi projektet, da GPU annoncerede efter en direktør, som skal styrke foreningens bestræbelser – og lede det Danida-støttede projekt.

Med jobannoncen viste GPU flaget – ikke bare sit eget, men også Games’ og Danidas og the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

GPU viste, at foreningen ikke er slået, men tværtimod kæmper videre i et projekt, der ikke bare styrker medierne og GPU, men også civilsamfundet og den almindelige udvikling i Gambia – til fordel for det gambiske folk.
Slår Jammeh ned på det projekt, rammer han ikke bare GPU, men også mange andre.

Slår Jammeh ned her, så risikerer han at slå sig selv over fingrene.

Interview: Præsident Jammeh langer ud efter Vestens hule snak om pressefrihed

Gambias præsident Jammeh lod sig den 22. juli interviewe af den nationale tv-station GRTS om pressefrihed og om retssagen mod de seks anklagede journalister.

Vi bringer her en udskrift af tv-journalisten Kebba Dibbas interview med præsidenten. Udskriften er foretaget af oppositionsavisen Foroyaa (med vore egne afsnitsinddelinger og fremhævelser, se evt. original udskrift på www.foroyaa.gm). Vi giver nu ordet til His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh:

Most of these opposition parties were formed by the same people and I understand that the little havoc that we get in the west will say oh, there is no freedom of the press. After all, there is no independent press in the country. All these press, most of them except Daily Observer serve the man who finances them. So you can see, but I thank god that Gambians are very conscious people. They know what is going on.

So you see, they can try to destabilize your country in many ways. You see your own people trying to sow the seed of discord, discontentment and decadence; trying to create suspicion within the people, you understand; put a wedge between the people and the leadership. This creates suspicions. Once you allow that to happen, then they use those rat pieces they call local journalists, then you are in trouble.

What we are able to do is to make sure that everything is under control. As far as we are concerned the laws of this country will be applied to the letter, come rain or sunshine. Those people, they will face the full force of the law and we are not going to compromise.

One of those countries wants us to allow criticism of the government, we are allowing criticism of the government, but if you violate the law we will deal with you and if you accuse the government, you will make sure that you have evidence. Freedom of the press does not mean freedom for character assassination. Freedom of the press does not mean that you are above the law. What is important is that the press has their freedom to say whatever they want but we have the freedom and the right to make every Gambian accountable before the law. That is the difference.

They have their duty to their sponsors; we have the duty to protect every citizen of this country including them the journalists. Now, you will notice that even if a journalist, so called journalist because we do not have qualified journalists, very few of them. And you have these opposition sponsored rat pieces called journalists.

When they unjustifiably tarnish the image of an innocent individual and there is no recourse to law, what are we encouraging is the law of the jungle. And each time they are confronted by civilians, the next thing would be, you are arrested and beaten by the NIA.

You claim to have lost security, the next you are seeking asylum and the western Embassies will be very happy to give you a visa. When decent Gambians find it difficult to even obtain a British visa, but dissidents find it very easy to go to the west.

And what will happen, God forbid, if there is a problem (here). The first thing they will do is just send them to evacuate their own people and leave Africans to kill each other. It will never happen in this country. Never! As far as Allah is up, they will never succeed. So they think that they can hide behind the so called press freedom and violate the law and get away with it, they got it wrong this time. We are going to prosecute them to the letter.

After all, religious people, clergies, imams, when they do their sermons, they are being watched on daily basis, every Friday if they say anything then they think, “Oh this is radical.” If you are a foreigner they deport you from UK, if you are a citizen they lock you up. There is one they called Hamsa who has been deported because of what he said. He is inciting trouble, you know, because they are concerned about their own internal security and stability, and they want us to be reckless about our security and stability.

We are created by the almighty Allah and that is why we have religious and moral values and those moral values and religious beliefs, we will guard and protect them with our blood. And the peace and stability of this country, we will defend it with our blood. So this is the difference.

They are concerned about security of their own people and they are highly developed countries. A struggling country like the Gambia is a small country for that matter, we should be reckless about our internal security in the name of freedom!

Nobody gives freedom in this country. You are free as long as you don’t inflict the laws of this country. The peace and stability of this country, I will defend it for that’s what brings about development in this country. I have the Almighty Allah behind me.

Fhv. GPU-leder udgiver The Daily News

Den tidligere GPU-præsident, Madi Ceesay, startede i august sin egen avis i Gambia – the Daily News newspaper. Se den på www.dailynews.gm.

Madi Ceesay var formand for GPU fra 2005-2008.
Han var i 2006 administrerende chefredaktør på den uafhængige avis, The Independent, da han blev arresteret – sammen med avisens chefredaktør Musa Saidykhan, der også var medlem af GPU’s bestyrelse. De to sad fængslet i tre uger, og avisen blev lukket.
Efter løsladelsen fortsatte Madi Ceesay sit frivillige arbejde som GPU-formand. Senere på året fik han International Press Freedom Award fra det amerikanske CPJ – Committee to Protect Journalists.
Han etablerede sig siden hen som mediekonsulent med firmaet Media Agenda – og trak sig som formand ved GPUs kongres i marts 2008.
Læs evt. Madi Ceesays blog på CPJ: http://cpj.org/blog/2009/06/gambian-president-has-no-stake-in-journalists-murd.php

Vil du være direktør i GPU?

Der er kommet mange gode ansøgninger til jobbet som direktør for Gambia Press Union. Direktøren skal samtidig være projektleder projektet ”Media for Development – Development for Media”, som Games og GPU laver sammen – med bistand fra Danida på en mio. kroner

Der er sidste frist for ansøgninger den 10. september, så du kan stadig nå at søge – hvis du passer til profilen… J
Se jobannoncen her:
GAMBIA PRESS UNION
NO. 5 GARBA JAHUMPA ROAD BAKAU NEWTOWN
P. O. Box 1440, Banjul, The Gambia
email: gpu@qanet.gm url: www.gambiapressunion.org

VACANCY ANNOUNCEMENT
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GPU SECRETARIAT

BACKGROUND
A new position of Executive Director, Gambia Press Union Secretariat is vacant.

The position will be funded by the recently approved capacity building project “Media for development – Development for media” which includes the institutional strengthening of the Gambia Press Union. The Project, financed by the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DANIDA) and implemented in cooperation with the Danish organisation GAMES (Gambia Media Support ) is part of a process to strengthen the institutional capacity of GPU.

The project which will be run jointly by GPU and the Danish NGO, Games (Gambia Media Support) amongst other things seeks to

  • build the capacity of the GPU to support enhancing professional journalism skills and ethics amongst working journalists in The Gambia
  • build the capacity of the GPU to develop a framework for mid-career and further training of working journalists
  • enhance the capacity of the GPU as the key advocate for press freedom, professional journalism, journalists rights, freedom of expression and access to information in The Gambia and to deliver relevant and timely service to its members.

The Executive Director will play the key role in this process, working in close cooperation with the GPU President and Executive.

PROFILE
The Union is looking for a candidate with a proven and outstanding record in organisational and managerial work within journalism or the civil society sector. The candidate shall be able to demonstrate experiences and results in action-oriented implementation of strategies and activity plans for the media, NGOs, INGOs, civil society and/or similar organisations.

The candidate must be familiar with the function and role of media in civil society and the development of democracy and human rights as well as the general frameworks of human rights policies and strategies nationally, regionally and internationally.

The candidate must have good communication skills and must be able to relate efficiently to existing and potential members, contacts and stakeholders as well as the general public.

The candidate must have excellent written and spoken English.

We are looking for a person that is driven by vision and willingness to engage and advocate for the case of the media and media freedoms in The Gambia.  They must understand and be ready to face the challenges and struggles that follow with this.

APPLICATIONS
Candidates must present a motivated application letter of not more than two pages and a CV to be delivered to the GPU Secretariat NO. 5 GARBA JAHUMPA ROAD BAKAU NEWTOWN or by Post to P. O. Box 1440, Banjul, The Gambia or email gpu@qanet.gm at the latest 4p.m (16:00hrs), Thursday, September 10, 2009.

Interested candidates may request a detailed job description at the GPU Secretariat or the GPU website www.gambiapressunion.org.

Candidates must be prepared for a job interview within maximum 2 weeks after the deadline for application and to start as soon as possible.

Lær at lave projekter – og alt muligt andet

Som medlem af Games har du chancen for at deltage i en ret så mange og spændende fyraftensmøde og weekendkurser i Projektrådgivningens kursuskalender.

Hvis du vil lære mere om at lave projekter eller drive en forening, så er der kurser i det. Hvis du er mere interesseret i ideerne bag Danidas bistand, så er der også kurser i det. Nogle varer bare en eftermiddag, andre er heldagskurser, atter andre er weekend-kurser.

Kurserne er ikke bare relevante og billige. De er garanter også en oplevelse værd. Deltagerne kommer nemlig fra alle de andre NGO’er i Projektrådgivningens mærkelige bagland.

Projektrådgivningen er en fællesforening af 242 små og store NGO’er. Fra sekretariat i Århus forvalter Projektrådgivningen de 70 millioner kroner, som Danida lægger Projektpuljen hvert år. Det er herfra, Games og GPU i juli fik 1 mio. kr. til det nye projekt.

Hvordan styrker vi Games?
”Hvad kendetegner en stærk forening, og hvordan kan I styrke jeres?” hedder et fyraftensmøde, der kører fra 17-20 i både Århus og København, henholdsvis onsdag d. 11. november og torsdag d. 12. november.
”På fyraftensmøde vil vi med udgangspunkt i de deltagende organisationers erfaringer diskutere os frem til løsninger og muligheder i forhold til at styrke jeres forening. Diskussionen kommer til at foregå ud fra jeres muligheder og udfordringer og der bliver rig mulighed for at høre hvad andre gør, og hvordan de arbejder med at styrke deres forening.”

Minikursus i fortalervirksomhed
På engelsk hedder det advocacy. På dansk fortalervirksomhed. Det handler om at styrke Sydpartnerne, så de kan fungere som talerør for deres målgrupper og kan forsvare deres rettigheder både lokalt og på nationalt og internationalt niveau.
Fortalervirksomhed og den rettighedsbaserede tilgang er begge begreber i Danida’s Civilsamfundsstrategi og i dansk NGO-bistand til Syd.
Det lyder måske svævende, men mødet tager udgangspunkt i konkrete NGO’ers erfaringer og projekter.
Kurset holdes i Århus den 20. oktober og i København dagen efter.

Lær projektstyring
Et weekendkursus i begyndelsen af oktober lover at lære dig projektplanlægning og -styring. Redskabet hedder Logical Framework Approach, LFA, der bruges i det meste af bistandsverdenen til udvikling, planlægning, styring og evaluering af projekter.
Men værktøjet kan bruges til alt muligt andet, man arbejder med.
Det er ikke for begyndere. Man skal have erfaring med at udvikle projekter – hvilket mange af Games medlemmer allerede har fra arbejdet som journalister. Eller også skal man have deltaget i Projektrådgivningens kursus: ‘Fra idé til projekt’ – som løb af stabelen sidst i august.

Mange fyraftensmøder
Projektrådgivningens kursuskalender for efteråret 2009 tæller blandt andet fyraftensmøderne:
• Faglig afklaring: Partnerskab – med afsæt i et fagligt oplæg inviterer vi til dialog og afklaring
• Skrøbelige situationer – hvad mener vi med begrebet – og hvad er rammerne for at arbejde i skrøbelige situationer?
• Klima, miljø og udvikling – på vej mod COP-15 i København
• Debatmøde: Projektrådgivningens strategiplan – få indflydelse på retning og prioriteringer
• Regnskabsaflæggelse – for foreninger med bevilling fra Projektpuljen
Se alle kurserne på Se mere på www.prngo.dk.

Priser:
Fyraftensmøder: Gratis
Weekendkurser: 400 kr.
Endagskurser: 200 kr.

Forsvarets replik: De seks er uskyldige

De seks journalisters dom for undergravende virksomhed og ærekrænkelse er helt uden hold i noget som helst. Sagen drejer sig om en offentliggjort pressemeddelelse, hvor GPU svare igen på præsident Jammehs udtalelser – men uden at krænke ham. Læs forsvarets replik her

The defence closing remarks – as reported by GPU
Representing five of the six accused, Lawyer Lamin Camara is said to have addressed the court for almost three hours.
Sam Sarr, editor Foroyaa representing himself spoke for two hours and made emphasis on President Jammeh’s statement, the right of reply and the media’s oversight role as catered for by the Gambian Constitution of 1997.
DPP Dhenge was said to have found it difficult to respond to points of law raised by the defence and had to be cut short many times by Justice Fagbenle.

Below is an excerpt of the proceedings at the high court in Banjul:

AS DEFENSE URGES COURT TO ACQUIT AND DISCHARGE JOURNALISTS
HIGH COURT TO DELIVER JUDGMENT WEDNESDAY

As the High court in Banjul set Wednesday 5 August 2009 for judgment, Mr. Lamin S. Camara Lawyer for the accused six journalists charged with sedition, defamation and conspiracy on Monday 3 August 2009 told the High Court presided over by Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle to acquit and discharge the accused persons as the prosecution has failed to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.

Defense Counsel Camara argued that the prosecution’s submission are inconsistent, pointing out that the assertion that the accused persons are all members of the Gambia Press Union is inaccurate. He further said evidence before the court has not proven that the accused persons are responsible for the publication of the alleged seditious publication.

Camara also said the director of public prosecution told the court that the accused persons conspired among themselves and therefore committed an offense. “This analysis by the prosecution is misconstrued, since there is nobody among them who said so,” he said, adding that the accused persons have proven their innocence, and there is no burden of proof by the prosecution.

Camara argued that the accused persons have denied the conspiracy charges and seditious publication in exhibit A and B contained in the Point and Foroyaa Newspapers.

He said Pap Saine and Sam Sarr denied being members of GPU due to their position as media chiefs who can only be advisers, as opposed to the evidence of the prosecution and their witnesses.

Camara stated that : “Exhibit (I) to (L) have shown to this court that their names of the accused persons are not found anywhere; and that they are the authors of the article. “This evidence is corroborated in material particular by Pw3 who said he extracted it from the accused persons. Pw2 confirmed to the court that the accused are not the author of the articles which were extracted from their emails.

“My Lord the lowest professional experience of the accused persons is seven years and the highest is thirty-nine years. They all have looked at exhibit A and B and stated loudly and clearly that it is not stated anywhere in this alleged publication that the President and the government of the Gambia have a hand in the killing of journalists Deyda Hydara. And this material evident is corroborated by Pw3 before the court, who also confirmed to the court that it is not stated anywhere that the president and the government are responsible for the killing of Deyda Hydara.

“It is particularized that the president and government of the Gambia are being defamed and that the President and the government are being intended to brought into hatred, contempt, or incitement,” Camara said. He added by quoting PW3 as saying: “My opinion is not contained in the alleged publication.” According to Camara, the court is compelled to go into a fishing expedition to find where it is stated that the President and the government are responsible for the killing of Deyda Hydara.

He further noted that evident of the document of defence number 6 exhibit A, B and C has not been controverted by exhibit A and B, being a reply to exhibit C. “The interpretation given to exhibit A and D by the prosecution is a erroneous as it is not controverted,” argued the defense counsel.

Camara also pointed out that the rhetoric question before the court is that the prosecution denied all the charges beyond reasonable doubt and that the evidence given by the prosecution witnesses are inconsistent, incredible and unreliable  and the documentary evidence tendered are at best circumstantial.

Further addressing the court, Camara argued that Exhibit (I) to (L) have no value to the charges before the court, noting that: “exhibit (I) does not contain attachment of any publication,” citing the words of Ndey Tahpa Sosseh in the email tendered as exhibit(I) saying: “my apology,  am not sure if the attachment came through.”

Going further, he said “the Prosecution has also referred to exhibit (J) but has failed to tell the court that there is a might of minds meet or conspiracy theory. He quoted Exhibit J, an email communication extracted from Sarata’s email addressed to Ndey as follows: “Ndey, Emil said let me ask you to drop the statement and he will call you tonight.”

He said this communication has been reechoed in exhibit E and there is nowhere in exhibit E that the first and the forth are part of the legal enterprise.

Counsel Camara also made reference to the GPU press release containing its letter head with the “headline GPU Reacts to President Jammeh’s statement,” noting that: “this is a GPU letterhead  and there is nowhere where the email addresses of the accused persons are present.”

Camara upheld that the prosecution’s case on count one to four has failed as there is no evident before the court about an illegal enterprise of meeting of minds for any illegal enterprise as alleged director of prosecution- Mr Richard N. Chenge. Buttressing further, Camara said to reach conspiracy to commit criminal defamation, the prosecution has to establish a cooperative value in their objection, which he said are absent in exhibit E- relating to admissibility, citing section 31(1& 2) to back his arguments. Furthermore, he said: “there is nowhere in exhibit C and H that the agents took cautionary statement from the accused persons which is a condition for admissibility of the accused person,” making reference to the case of the State versus Jetayal Mballow, to back up his argument. He pointed out that the agents have failed in their statutory responsibility of taking cautionary statement of the accused persons and this is provided for by the accused persons in the case of Tijan E.. Bah who was called to witness the recording of the accused cautionary statements and was not called as a witness. Camara therefore submitted that the prosecution cannot abrogate or reprobate is misconceived. “Whether the prosecution tendered probative value of the content before the court is not sub-judicious,” he said.

Camara cited that accused person’s number 1, 2,3,4,5 and 7 have said they were not told of their arrest and were not allowed access to legal practitioner or family member or been informed of their rights to legal representation at the time of their detention, making reference to section 19 of the 1997 constitution, chapter four, concerning the protection of fundamental rights and freedom which are entrenched provisions of the constitution as follows: “Any person arrested shall be informed of his/her right to legal person, and shall be informed within three hours of the reason for his arrest  and his right to consult a legal practitioner,” Camara adding “this law is mandatory as evident in the word  shall. He said the evidence of the accused persons are not controverted by the prosecution submission that exhibit C to H were taken in violation of their rights.

He further said Exhibit A and B contained that very subject matter before the court and the offenses charged stated that only one paragraph is both seditious and defamatory to the person of the President and the government, outlining that “even the prosecution has doubted that the alleged publication is defamatory and seditious.”

Camara cited other authorities as a back up that the publication is not seditious and defamatory. He went further: “for a statement to be defamatory the written material must be looked at and nothing outside it.

Going further, he said: “to whether the written words are seditious or not other circumstances including public feeling at the time of the publication must be looked at. He said the paragraph cited by the prosecution is not enough to prove that the statement is seditious or defamatory. He argued that “not a single person of the readership has testified to state that the publication is capable of, and intended to bring into hatred, contempt or disaffection to the person of the President and government of the Gambia.

Camara also distinguished earlier evidence by the prosecution in his address relating the case to that of Lamin Waa Juwara, an opposition politician who was jailed for six months, in a prosecution led by the Mr Emmanuel Fagbenle, while current Chief Justice Emmanuel Agim was the director of public prosecution at the time. Camara said “Lamin Waa Juwara was charged with seditious intention and not defamatory publication as in this particular case.

Sam Sarr’s submission
In his submission, Sam Sarr Managing editor of Foroyaa newspaper who is representing himself associated himself with submission of the defense counsel.

He said “in this issue of freedom of expression arise in this trial section 25 subsection 1, paragraph A which state that every person shall have the right to  freedom of expression which shall include freedom of the press and other information media. He described freedom of expression as a corner stone of democracy. He added that the section is further strengthened by section 207 which among others states that “the freedom and independence of the press and other information media are hereby guaranteed.”

The Foroyaa editor upheld that “there must be free flow of information and ideas which enable people to make informed choices and strengthen democracy.

He said the section requires the media to uphold the principles, provisions, and the objective of the constitution of the Gambia and the responsibility of the government for the people of the country. “This give rights to the press and the responsibility to scrutinize the executive.”

Sam said the press release referred to in this case signifies holding government accountable to the people as stipulated under the aforesaid section. He said the press release is an opportunity to reflect and comment on the preoccupation of public interest.  Sarr submitted that the opportunity for the GPU’s request for publication, having regard that they had already published the interview of the President, and that this is bond out of exhibit 6B. He said “for any evidence it is clear that I had given all and sundry the opportunity of free debate, the very core of the concept of democracy.

He said it also evident that he is guided in his job as editor in a professional manner to ensure a divergent views and dissenting opinion. “It’s evident that in my testimony I publish all views fit for publication. It is not the role of a publisher or editor of a newspaper to merely publish opinion that have been forwarded for publication, but to make the newspaper accessible to all views when it comes to the right to reply. Sam said he would have failed in his constitutional mandate and very unprofessional to prevent the GPU press release from publication, hence denying the GPU President her right to reply. He upheld that there is no evidence whatsoever shown by the prosecution before the court that the press release said the President and the government are responsible for the death of journalist Deyda Hydara.

He also among others asserted that non of the accused persons confirmed to the court or has been proven before this court to have conspired with him, as alleged by the prosecution and their witnesses, and therefore called on the court to acquit and discharged him accordingly.

The state Prosecution Richard Chenge was the centre of laughter when he rose and argued that the defense counsel cited authorities from Nigeria, saying  the Nigerian and Ghanaian laws are not the same with that of the Gambia. He was however reminded by the court that he himself cited authorities in Nigeria during his address.  Chenge however continued to insist while the whole courtroom laughed at him trying to find ways of making points against the defense as he continued.

Presiding judge adjourned the case to Wednesday 5 August 2009 for a historic judgment.