The EU is concerned at the heavy sentences given to six journalists in Gambia and said they would have a negative impact on freedom of expression in the country.
“The right to freedom of expression is fundamental to democracy and a fundamental freedom,” the Swedish EU presidency said in a statement.
“The EU is concerned by the heavy sentences handed down and negative impact of these prosecutions on freedom of expression in the Gambia,” it said.
“The EU urges the Gambia to take these concerns into consideration and to act in conformity with its international human rights and treaty obligations in considering any appeals.”
The US described as “outrageous” and a “travesty” the conviction of the six journalists in Gambia for sedition and defamation and demanded their immediate release.
The journalists – who were jailed last week for two years – are three members of the Gambian Press Union, two reporters from the Point newspaper and one working for Foroyaa newspaper. One of the journalists for the Point, Pap Saine, also reports for Reuters.
Reuters issued a statement last week expressing concern for the health of Saine, who needs medical attention for a heart condition and collapsed in court at one stage during the trial.
They were arrested in June, along with another journalist, after the Gambia Press Union issued a statement critical of the government’s treatment of journalists, especially after the killing in 2004 of veteran reporter Deyda Hydara.
The seventh journalist was later released.
Pic: Journalist protesting