The leader of the Gambia’s opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), Ousainou Darboe, has condemned a police raid at the residence of Jerending Sanyang by riot police.
Mr Sanyang, an ally of former President Yahya Jammeh, was arrested by police officers who stormed his home on Monday while he was hosting a press conference.
He was detained at the Yundum Police Station and later charged.
“The UDP said: “The conduct of the police was a flagrant violation of the rights of the citizens they victimized including the unprovoked physical assault on Lamin Fatty, a reporter on assignment to cover the press conference and subsequent arrests that ensued in the illegal conduct of the police officers on the scene,” Mr Darboe said.
He added: “No Gambian should have their constitutionally guaranteed rights violated including their freedom of speech and assembly. UDP also condemns any effort that attempts to use the instruments of government particularly the security services to subvert our hard-earned democracy.
“The harassment of citizens in their own homes exercising their rights is anti-democratic and abuse of office. It is the responsibility of the government to both respect and enforce the law at all times. Deploying security forces on errands that turn them into lawbreakers undermines trust and confidence in the very people charged with ensuring our individual and collective security.
“The demand to the government of The Gambia is a simple one that is to follow and respect the law. The trumped-up charges against Jerending must be dropped and no further steps should be undertaken to violate his rights and freedoms including holding a press conference in his residence or elsewhere he and his associates chose to talk to the public.
“UDP also demand those officers who assaulted the journalist Lamin Fatty be held accountable for their conduct as provided for under police procedures. Further, we demand that those police leaders who gave the orders for this illegal act be held accountable to deter others from doing the same again.
“UDP reiterates the fact that the security forces should not be used as political instruments in any democratic society.”