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NGOs condemn Gambia government for blocking online media

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Civil societies in Africa have condemned the government of The Gambia for blocking online news sources in the country.

According to a press release issued by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) participants at the NGOs Forum of African Commission on Human and People’s Right (ACHPR) on April 12, 2012 added their voice to the widespread condemnation of the Gambian authorities over their deliberate policy of blocking access to critical online news websites in that country.

“Systematically, the Gambian authorities have either attacked the online news newspapers by hacking into their websites or blocking their IP addresses, making it impossible for Gambians to access the news sites,” it said.

The release indicated that the participants adopted a resolution in which they said, “We the participants of the NGO Forum are deeply concerned at the continuous blocking of the online newspapers and information websites thereby denying alternative sources of information to the Gambian public. We note with grave concern that the Gambian government continues to unduly restrict freedom of expression and access to information.”

It said, both the online newspapers and the mainstream media have suffered repeated censorships from the authorities. “This situation has forced several independent journalists to flee into exile,” it said.

Citing examples, the release noted that in 2008 for instance, ‘The Gambia Echo’ and ‘Freedom Newspaper’, two online newspapers, were blocked for being critical of the administration. In the case of the Freedom Newspaper, it reported on the alleged corruption and mismanagement at the country’s state telecommunication company.

The participants appealed to the Gambian government to urgently engage in a comprehensive media law reform and repeal all draconian laws, especially the criminal defamation, publication of false news and all other anti-freedom of expression legislation in the country’s law books, the release said.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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