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ECOWAS Court delivers landmark decision

This handout picture released by the Nigerian Office of the President shows President Muhammadu Buhari (C-L) giving a press conferecne with Republic of Togo President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe Eyadema (C-R) during the 52nd ECOWAS Heads of State Summit held in Abuja, 16 December 2017
This handout picture released by the Nigerian Office of the President shows President Muhammadu Buhari (C-L) giving a press conferecne with Republic of Togo President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe Eyadema (C-R) during the 52nd ECOWAS Heads of State Summit held in Abuja, 16 December 2017

SUNDAY AGHAEZE/AFP/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on cpj.org on 14 February 2018.

The Committee to Protect Journalists called on the Gambian government to act on a judgment passed today by the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to immediately repeal its laws on criminal libel, sedition, and false news.

ECOWAS found that Gambia's laws criminalizing speech and its treatment of four journalists during their arrest violated their rights, a statement by the Media Legal Defence Initiative said. The journalists - Fatou Camara, Fataou Jaw Manneh, Alhagie Jobe, and Lamin Fatty - live in exile for fear of further persecution, the statement said.

"We are delighted with today's judgment and see it as helping to close the door on the harassment of the press under Gambia's then President Yahya Jammeh," said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal. "Gambia's government, under President Adama Barrow, must ensure there are no delays in acting on the ECOWAS judgment so that the media can operate freely without fear of reprisal."

CPJ and partner organizations filed an amici curiae brief to ECOWAS as part of the case.

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