The Federation of African Journalists and Others v. The Republic of The Gambia

This case concerns serious human rights violations suffered by four journalists in The Gambia, including torture, persecution, unlawful arrest and detention.


Fatou Camara, Fataou Jaw Manneh, Alhagie Jobe and Lamin Fatty are Gambian journalists who had been arrested and detained by Gambian authorities in response to their work as journalists in The Gambia. All four were forced into exile,  fleeing the country for fear of further persecution. Fataou Jaw Manneh and Alhagie Jobe state that they were tortured while in the custody of the National Intelligence Agency.

Such attacks on journalists and media workers are frequently used to silence those who investigate, document and report on issues perceived by authorities to be sensitive. These can include human rights violations, environmental degradation, corruption, organised crime, drug trafficking, public crises, emergencies or public demonstrations.

In many cases, freedom of expression is limited by banning independent newspapers, criminalising the publishing or disseminating of certain information and prosecuting editors and journalists.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) has made clear that such limitations on freedom of expression and infringements on liberty are inconsistent with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.


The four journalists, together with the Federation of African Journalists, brought their case to the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (the ECOWAS Court) in December 2015. They were supported by the Media Legal Defence Initiative. The ECOWAS Court granted REDRESS leave to intervene in the case on 18 April 2016.

On 19 May 2016, we submitted our amicus curiae brief to the ECOWAS Court. Our submission focused on the particular vulnerability of journalists to torture and related abuses; the nature and applicability of the absolute prohibition of torture; States’ positive obligations to protect journalists from violence, including torture and other prohibited ill-treatment, and the right to redress for tortured journalists in forced exile.

Our submission was joined with the submission of other amici curiae, namely the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Amnesty International, Article 19 and other human rights organisations.


Judgment delivered by the ECOWAS court on 14 February 2018


  • Case Name: The Federation of African Journalists and Others v. The Republic of The Gambia
  • Court/Body: Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
  • Date Filed: 19 May 2016 (amicus curiae)
  • Current Status: Judgement delivered by the ECOWAS court on 14 February 2018.


Amicus curiae means a friend of the court. It refers to the situation when a person or group who is not a party to a lawsuit will petition the court for permission to submit a brief or make submissions in the action with the intent of assisting the court with questions or issues before it.

The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (also known as the Banjul Charter) is a regional human rights instrument that is intended to promote and protect human rights and basic freedoms in Africa.