By Mama A. Touray
The Gambia Press Union through a press statement issued yesterday has called on the Gambia Police Force to release journalist Bakary Mankajang unconditionally or charge him.
The union through its press release stated that “The GPU calls on the police to either charge the journalist or release him unconditionally, and respect the legal limit of 72 hours allowed in the law for detentions”.
The GPU further called on the police to respect the rights of the Gambian citizens to freely receive, impart, and express themselves as guaranteed by the 1997 Constitution and the various regional and international human rights laws that have been ratified by the Gambia.
The statement added through a family member of Gambian journalist, Bakary Mankajang, was called for questioning by a police officer and asked to report at the Fajikunda Police station on Wednesday, where he was detained by the Police Anti-Crime Unit in Banjulinding.
According to the release, Mankajang’s whereabouts were unknown until Yesterday (Thursday) afternoon after family members confirmed seeing him being held behind bars in Banjulinding.
It continued that “A family member, said he saw Mankajang on Thursday morning where he was detained in a cell and spoke to him briefly, and when he went out to buy some fruits for him, he was refused entry upon return and forced by an officer to leave the premises of the Anti-Crime Unit with the fruits”.
A police spokesperson who could not confirm the reason for his arrest or tell about his whereabouts told the GPU he was working to gather information about Mankajang’s case.
The statement stated that Mankajang was a former news presenter at DHK Radio who now runs an online news platform called Mankajang Daily.
GPU said Mankajang posted the following on Facebook on September 20, 2023 “I just received a call from one police officer that I should report to Fajikunda police station now, I don’t know what the matter is but I believe is in connection with my trip to Jululung, Casamance.”
“He said he was In Casamance, in southern Senegal where a suspect in the killing of two police officers was arrested to interview people who knew about the arrest of the suspect,” the release said.
“We are currently in Jululung, Casamance to have an interview with some people who were named in arrests of the prime suspect in connection [with]the recent shooting at Sukuta traffic light(s),” Mankajang announced in another post a day before he was invited for questioning by the Police.
Mankajang uses his platform of more than 8,000 followers to read news in English and Mandinka, the local dialect, on Facebook and TikTok.