Saturday, March 21, 2015

Standard newspaper knowingly reports falsehoods in shooting death of Ya Binta Jarju case - UPDATED

The verbatim reporting of the statement purportedly given by Sulayman Bah, who was identified by Standard as a civil servant and boyfriend to Ya Binta Jarju, appears to be a coordinated effort by the regime, to ensure that there are no variances in what was being reported about the circumstances leading to the death of a young and promising young woman.

All newspaper accounts of the case were largely based on Mr. Sulayman Bah's statement which, sources within the security services tell us, was coerced and made under duress.  Therefore, to even report on it without independently verifying its content is irresponsible journalism.  It is inexcusable also of, Gambian journalists who know that the regime routinely extract cautionary statements from victims and witnesses alike by torture or the threat of torture.

The Point newspaper shares blame in quoting extensively from a cautionary statement that contains distortions and falsehoods, probably coerced from the witness, in this case Mr. Sulayman Bah.  As for The Daily Observer, it is expected to blemish everything, as long as it favors the regime since the papaer is owned by none other than the Gambian dictator.

Let us make one thing clear; no warning shots were fired contrary to what the Police PRO made in his initial statement and contained in Mr. Bah's statement - a statement that is most likely than not made under threat of torture or actual torture.

Another point we want to make very clear is that no warning shots were fired.  The security forces started shooting the moment the taxi driver made that fateful u-turn into the dark narrow street with the security still in pursuit.  All the shots were made while the taxi was in front of the marauding and highly nervous troops following the events of 30 December 2014 when the State House came under attack from a group of Gambians residing abroad. .

The reporting of the murder of Ya Binta Jarju is abysmal at best.  We take particular exception to Standard's reporting of the case because its proprietor is Sheriff Bojang who also happens to be the regime's Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure thus stretching journalistic principles and ethic beyond the breaking point.

In less than a week since the incident, the taxi driver has been dragged into court, found guilty already of two of the four counts : failure to stop, disobedience to lawful order, rash or negligent act resulting in death and unlicensed driving.  We wonder he was not charged with driving without a seat belt which was the main reason why the driver was fleeing from the armed security in the first place. Why is the regime rushing this particular case when there are countless cases that have been languishing in the court system for years without being disposed of in court.

Rushing this particular case is against the public interest, and advancing it by Standard owned by a member of cabinet represents a conflict of interest that should not be tolerated.  You stay as owner and proprietor of Standard or remain in Jammeh's cabinet and sell your interest in the paper because putting it in blind trust will not resolve the problem.  

Updated: Added paragraph 7.