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Media & freedom of expression

The Gambia: "The Independent" newspaper forced to stop publishing

2005-05-17, Issue 207

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/media/28154

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The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned that the biweekly newspaper The Independent, which lost its printing press in an unsolved arson in April 2004, has been forced to stopped publishing entirely after its printing arrangement with the private Daily Observer was abruptly terminated. The Independent has not published since May 6 and is still looking for an alternative way to print, according to Editor Musa Saidykhan. Other Gambian printing and publishing outlets have refused the paper's requests for a contract.

IFEX - News from the international freedom of expression community
_________________________________________________________________

ALERT UPDATE - THE GAMBIA

17 May 2005

"The Independent" newspaper forced to stop publishing

SOURCE: Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), New York

**Updates IFEX alert of 13 April 2004; for further information on the attack
on Radio 1 FM, see alerts of 16,14 and 11 August 2000; for the attack on the
home of Ebrima Sillah, see alerts of 19 and 16 August 2004; for the October
2003 attack on "The Independent", see alert of 20 October 2003**

(CPJ/IFEX) - The following is a 16 May 2005 CPJ press release:

In the Gambia, The Independent forced to stop publishing

New York, May 16, 2005 - The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply
concerned that the biweekly newspaper The Independent, which lost its
printing press in an unsolved arson in April 2004, has been forced to
stopped publishing entirely after its printing arrangement with the private
Daily Observer was abruptly terminated.

The Independent has not published since May 6 and is still looking for an
alternative way to print, according to Editor Musa Saidykhan. Other Gambian
printing and publishing outlets have refused the paper's requests for a
contract. Saidykhan said he believes they have been threatened not to print
The Independent, or they fear their own presses could be attacked.

"Those who use threats and violence to silence the Gambia's independent
media have achieved their objective for the moment," CPJ Executive Director
Ann Cooper said. "If this important newspaper disappears, it will be a
serious blow to press freedom in the Gambia."

The government has failed to solve a series of arsons against news outlets,
including a 2000 attack on private broadcaster Radio 1 FM; an August 2004
attack on the home of BBC correspondent Ebrima Sillah; and an October 2003
attack on the offices of The Independent. A second attack on The Independent
in April 2004 destroyed the newspaper's new printing press, and several
employees barely escaped. The most shocking attack, though, was the December
2004 murder of veteran journalist Deyda Hydara, co-editor and founder of the
independent newspaper The Point. Investigations into these attacks have
produced little or no results.

After The Independent's printing press was burned, it reached an informal
arrangement with the Daily Observer to have the paper printed there.
Saidykhan said he was notified by phone on May 4 that the arrangement had
been terminated.

Independent journalists suspect the pro-government Daily Observer had
political motives for terminating the agreement. Daily Observer Managing
Editor Momodou Sanyang told CPJ that he made the decision after learning of
problems with his paper's printing facilities, including the need for spare
parts and extra capacity.

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to
safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit
http://www.cpj.org

For further information, contact Africa Program Coordinator Julia Crawford
(x112) at CPJ, 330 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10001, U.S.A., tel: +1 212 465
1004, fax: +1 212 465 9568, e-mail: africaprogram@cpj.org, Internet:
http://www.cpj.org/

The information contained in this alert update is the sole responsibility of
CPJ. In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit
CPJ.
_________________________________________________________________
DISTRIBUTED BY THE INTERNATIONAL FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
EXCHANGE (IFEX) CLEARING HOUSE
489 College Street, Suite 403,Toronto (ON) M6G 1A5 CANADA
tel: +1 416 515 9622 fax: +1 416 515 7879
alerts e-mail: alerts@ifex.org general e-mail: ifex@ifex.org
Internet site: http://www.ifex.org/

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