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Sir Dawda K Jawara v. The Gambia

Case number:
Nos. 147/95 and 149/96
Date of decision:
11 May 2000
Court / Arbiter:
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights ( )

Relevant law :


Given that the Government of the Gambia did not contest the allegations concerning the arrest, detention, expulsion, and intimidation of journalists for articles they had published, the Commission concluded that those actions not only deprived journalists of their right to disseminate opinions but also violated the right of the public to information.

Freedom of expression (including RTI as element of or integral to)
International law
Media / Press

Case details:


The applicant, the former head of state of the Gambia, alleged that the military government that unseated him initiated a reign of terror, intimidation and arbitrary detention (para. 1) He further alleged numerous specific violations, including that arrests, detentions, expulsions and intimidation of journalists violated Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (the Charter), which guarantees to every individual (1) the right to receive information, and (2) the right to express and disseminate his opinion within the law.



The Commission noted that the Republic of the Gambia had ratified the African Charter, and regardless of suspension of the Bill of rights the provisions of the Charter remained applicable. The Commission established that the government had failed to provide any defence to the allegations raised by the applicant concerning violations of Article 9. Accordingly, the Commission concluded that “the intimidation and arrest or detention of journalists for articles published and questions asked deprives not only the journalists of their rights to freely express and disseminate their opinions, but also the public, of the right to information” (para. 65).



Findings of the Commission