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Justice minister threatens to prosecute exiled journalists and human rights defenders

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 7 January 2011, Gambia's Justice Minister, Edward Gomez issued threats to exiled journalists and rights defenders, saying that they would be prosecuted if they returned for allegedly "painting a grim picture" of the country.

Gomez, who was reacting to a story in the privately-owned "Daily News" about an international campaign against the systematic human rights violations in the country, said: "we will wait here for them to come (home)."

The Justice Minister said the advocates were "evil members" of society" who have taken refuge abroad and were "putting every nonsensical story in newspapers and on radio to tarnish the good image of the government."

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) sources attributed the minister's threats to a campaign mounted by exiled journalist Alieu B Ceesay and the Scottish Society of Human Rights. The sources said in December 2010, the campaign received a boost with 24 British parliamentarians appending their signatures to a motion calling on the international community to ensure that the deteriorating human rights situation in the Gambia is improved.

On the repression of Gambians including abductions and gruesome killings, which was the basis of the motion, Gomez said those were mere speculations and unfounded allegations.

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