Target: Basirou Mahoney, Minister of Justice and Attorney General
Goal: Drop charges against two Gambian journalists targeted for printing an unflattering article about the ruling party
Two journalists for a Gambian independent newspaper have been subject to a long and drawn-out trial regarding charges that they published “false news with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public” and engaged in “conspiracy to commit felony.” The men, Musa Sheriff and Sainey M.K. Marenah, are being targeted solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and the charges against them must be dropped immediately.
The men were arrested in early 2014 after a December 2013 article published in the independent paper The Voice, in which they reported that young people in the Gambia were leaving the ruling government party, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), and instead supporting the United Democratic Party (UDP). The charges levied against them are often employed in the Gambia as a means of silencing journalists and members of the press.
In addition to flimsy charges made against them, the men have had to contend with a campaign of harassment. Their trial has been postponed several times, and many of their court dates were cancelled only after they had already showed up at the courthouse. They have consequently missed a lot of work, and their financial well-being has greatly suffered. Amnesty International also reports that since the trial actually began, several advertisers have pulled their support from The Voice.
Journalists, like everyone else, have the right to freedom of expression and must be allowed to do their work unfettered. Sign the petition and demand that the charges be dropped against Musa Sheriff and Sainey M.K. Marenah.
I am writing to urge you to immediately drop the charges against journalists Musa Sheriff and Sainey M.K. Marenah. The men have been arrested simply for exercising their internationally-recognized human right to freedom of expression, and the charges against them must be dropped immediately and unconditionally.
Sheriff and Marenah stand accused of “publishing false news with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public” and “conspiracy to commit felony,” Amnesty International reports. The article in question simply reported that many youth are leaving the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction in favor of the United Democratic Party. As a result the men have been arrested and harassed. They are now suffering from financial hardship as a result of all the work they have missed attending court dates that have been repeatedly cancelled or postponed at the last minute.
Freedom of expression is an international human right, and journalists must be allowed to carry out their work free from threats and harassment. I therefore demand that the charges against Musa Sheriff and Sainey M.K. Marenah be dropped immediately.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: SKopp via Wikimedia Commons