Alagi Yorro Jallow

(JollofNews) -This is unacceptable. All lovers of freedom and democracy everywhere should rise to defend journalist Baboucarr Nani Sey. The charges have raised concerns about possible free speech violations and press intimidation.

This is an unacceptable violation of freedom of the press, after police accused him of Conspiring to commit felony, Destruction of property, Unlawful assembly and Use of banners without permit, a criminal offense. Holding journalists on bogus charges to keep them from being the eyes and ears of the people (all of us) just helps prove that they are doing important work on behalf of all of us.

Freedom of the press protects the right of journalists to obtain and publish information or opinions without government censorship or fear of punishment as is being currently experienced by Baboucarr Nani Sey. Journalists generally understand that there are red lines when it comes to national security and individual privacy laws which apply in every country.

Freedom of the press is an essential ingredient of democracy and it is the duty of the government and citizens to protect it at all costs, because if this is not done, we shall see our hard-won democracy annihilated and buried in the dustbin of history. This will be too high a price to pay and future generations will not forgive us.

What is even more shocking is the conspiracy of silence by political parties, politicians and from the ministry that should promote the free, lawful expression and dissemination of information and views. It’s about time all politicians stopped paying lip-service to the issue of not only political violence, attack and intimidation against journalists in the private press in general.

The government has not been shy to use administrative instruments to silence journalists and render them inoperative just to insulate themselves against criticism and prevent them from reporting corruption, human rights violations and bad governance. These acts are normally associated with Yahya Jammeh’s rule which have repressed the right to speak, to write and to be heard.

Baboucarr Nani Sey

Cantankerous defenders of these repressive measures against journalists have or will soon discover that they need this very journalist when they leave office. Experience and history have shown that the most permanent thing in our lives is change. Those in government today will be out of government tomorrow and the systems they leave behind, have the potential to be used against them.

And that repression will in turn breed undesirable consequences. We must come to accept that free debate in our country is a valve through which citizens with grievances or disagreements can blow off steam. We must accept that openness fosters resilience and that peaceful protest avoids violence. Freedom of the press is an essential contributor to restrain tyranny, corruption and ineptitude in a flourishing or emerging democracy.

The press isn’t a lapdog; they are supposed to be the watchdog. This must not be normalized in a constitutional democracy.