Tourism Minister, Hamat Bah calls Sun Newspaper Article a Malicious Lie

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By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT

The day before The Gambia’s 55th Independence Day, Gambia’s Tourism Minister, Hamat Bah, called out a Sun Newspaper article as evil, malicious and a lie. According to Mr Bah, the Sun Newspaper article written by Graeme Culliford, labelling The Gambia a paedophile paradise was a “malicious story that the gentleman wrote from the Sun Newspaper.” According to him the story is “not true at all” and “a lie”. The leader of the National Reconciliation Party (NRP),  Hamat Bah, warned that the government is “working on him too. We are gathering some facts on him and we got something.”

The Sun Article “Sick Sales Inside Paedo Paradise”

On January 16th 2020, UK based tabloid newspaper outlet, The Sun, published an article titled “SICK SALES Inside ‘paedo paradise’ The Gambia where sex beasts are buying African children and toddlers to rape”. According to the article “TRAGIC Gambian children are being sold to British paedophiles for as little as £2-a-time by their desperate parents”. The article quotes Child Protection Alliance National Coordinator Lamin Fatty as saying “Sex is cheap in my country and children are being sold for as little as 150 Dalasis, or just over £2 in your currency.”

Soon after the article was published Mr Fatty was questioned twice by Security Officers as part of a Government investigation on the newspaper allegations. Mr Fatty took to Facebook to declare that “it has been brought to my attention that a news item published by the Sun Newspaper is been circulated online and I was quoted to have said “Sex is cheap in my country and children are being sold for as little as 150 Dalasis, or just over £2 in your currency” this is not only false but malicious by the said Reporter.”

Sun Paper Article "Inside Paedo Paradise"

Sun Paper Article “Inside Paedo Paradise (c) The Sun Newspaper”

At the press conference called by, Government Spokesperson, Ebrima Sankareh and hosted at the Ministry of Tourism, Chronicle Newspaper Journalist, Kebba Ansu Manneh questioned Information Minister, Ebrima Sillah if the Government had contacted The Sun Newspaper over the allegations. According to Ebrima Sillah, the government is engaging forensic journalists to identify the veracity of the story. That even the pictures are being verified. “The security are also looking at a number of issues in this story. Hopefully very soon all those things will come to light.”

Only describing the investigation and not the Government’s correspondence with The Sun Newspaper, the journalist redirected his question and in response Ebrima Sillah responded that “no we’ve not reached that level yet.” At which point Hamat Bah interrupted stating that “we don’t want to disclose, the investigation is ongoing and no disclosure.”

Another journalist pressed the Tourism Minister on the mounting number of investigations and when an outcome could be anticipated. In response Hamat Bah responded saying “we are investigating and you cannot push us. We want the facts and we are working and we meant it seriously we meant it. You have a judiciary that you must make sure when you go to court your facts are right and we will challenge this nationally and internationally. And there is no joke about that. So we are not rushing We want to do it diligently and rightly so that when we get there we get what we want.”

Speaking of some of the preliminary findings from the Investigation which Information Minister Ebrima Sillah already hinted to, Tourism Minister Hamat Bah reiterated that “these pictures are no guarantee they are from Gambia. In fact, we are establishing that too. The forensic experts are working on that. 99% these pictures are not from The Gambia, that much I can tell you. It was intended to destroy this country and it was a job he was doing. Whatever he was doing that job In Shallah he will be exposed. Those pictures have nothing to do with The Gambia.”

Impact of Thomas Cook Overstated and Not a Justification

According to the article “experts warn that the economic crisis unleashed by the collapse of travel firm Thomas Cook is helping turn the former British colony into a “paedophile paradise” where perverts can operate unchecked.” The article published by Graeme Culliford who Government Spokesperson Sankareh said is not a journalist and a travel writer details that “Thomas Cook flew 45 per cent of The Gambia’s 100,000 annual visitors from the UK” to the country’s only Banjul International Airport.”

Journalist Alhagie Colley of West Coast Radio asked a question detailing the allegations by the Sun story which “indicates that Thomas Cook bankruptcy has led to 60% loss of Business is that true? And because of Thomas Cook bankruptcy the crime rate has increased in The Gambia and sex tourism has increased in The Gambia, is that true?” he asked.

On hand to respond to this question was the Director General of the Gambia Tourism Board, Abdoulie Hydara, who refuted the allegations highlighting that “Thomas cooks contribution to our [The Gambia’s] Tourism arrivals was about 27% so its collapse cannot amount to 60% loss. And it is only Thomas Cook UK that has collapsed. The Thomas Cooks Hollands, Thomas Cooks Nordics are in operations. And the total Thomas Cook arrivals amount to 27%. Its collapse with only UK arrivals cannot amount to 60%.”

Responding to questions on the allegations that Thomas Cook bankruptcy has caused an increase in crime and paedophile activities. In response, Hamat Bah reiterated that “Mr Colley that’s not true, that’s a lie. He does not have any scientific facts to back up his story. Yes, we understand Thomas Cook affected our number of arrivals but it has not reduced our number of arrivals compared to 2018 – 2019. We are going to release the figures by the end of March. But it has affected our Tourism. It dropped in numbers but this is not the reason to justify the story, the malicious story that the gentleman wrote from the Sun Newspaper. Not true at all.”

Tourism Minister Hamat Bah: “We Will Not Let it Go Like That”

He continued to refute the article stating “that’s just a mere allegation that was intended to justify his malicious article against the Gambian people and the Gambian Government at large. Why should you single out the Gambia in justifying that article because people are unemployed? There’s unemployment everywhere in the world. That’s totally false.”

According to Hamat Bah “the Article was done in bad faith. It was calculated to destroy this country. Probably the person who wrote it is working on his own agenda, we are working on him too. We are gathering some facts on him and we got something. And this thing will not be laid to rest. It will be the last time somebody will just wake up and write something evil about our country and get away with it. We will not let it go like that. We are working all our security agents have been put on task to get to the bottom of this article and we will take the appropriate course.”

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