After 23 days in detention without a charge, popular television broadcaster, Ms Fatou Camara, has been charged before a Magistrate Court in the capital, Banjul. She is charged with two criminal counts of giving and publishing false information.
According to MFWA’s sources in the country, Ms Camara is been tried under Section 173A (1) (a) of the Information and Communication Act 2013, which was recently passed, and section 59 of the country’s criminal code.
“The charges come in the wake of accusations against Camara for giving false information with the intent to incite disaffection against and tarnish the image of President Yahya Jammeh and the Government of the Gambia,” the sources said.
She has, however, denied the accusations and has been granted a bail in the sum of 5 million Dalasis (about US$14,776). She will re-appear before the Court on October 28, 2013.
The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) arrested Camara on September 17 over allegations that she has been passing information to the international media, particularly a US-based newspaper, Freedom Newspaper, which is critical of President Jammeh.
The on-going trial is another attempt by the Gambian authorities to further repress freedom of expression and press freedom through the application of inimical laws including the recently passed repressive internet legislation.
The MFWA appeals to the authorities to drop the charges and respect the rights of the Gambian citizens to freely express themselves as guaranteed by the country’s Constitution and the human rights mechanism which have been ratified by the Gambia.
We also commend the efforts by the Gambia Press Union in filing a suit at the High Court demanding the release of Camara.