Gov’t, civil society train on freedom of expression

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Government officials and civil society organizations were recently trained on freedom of expression and right to information, held at the Paradise Suite Hotel in Kololi.

The Gambia Press Union GPU and Ministry of Information conducted the training to build the capacity on freedom of expression and media reform that would help guarantee right to access to information and to hold the government accountable.

Speaking at the training, the Minister of Information, Demba Ali Jawo, declared that information was the fundamental right for people to effectively participate in national development.

He said in the past regime information was not only suppressed but journalists were intimidated for doing their work.

He said the fundamental right of people would be guaranteed and respected at all times as-far-as it comes with responsibility, adding that the draft media reform bill presented by the GPU was in collaboration with the Ministry of Information.

Saikou Jammeh, secretary general of GPU, said in the new Gambia, the collaboration of the government, civil society and the media was now strong.

 The training was part of the project funded by UNDEF for GPU to establish a regulatory body for the Gambian media, he said, adding that since the launch of the project, trainers program was conducted to enable or have trainer’s trainer in the county that would provide training to a large group.

He added that the training brought together public officers and civil society actors to introduce them to basic human rights and instruments and mechanism at the regional and international levels and the constitution.

He stated that The Gambia constitution guarantees freedom of expression but does guarantee the right of the journalist to guard information about the government, and does not also guarantee the journalist or communicators to compel the government to give certain information.

The President of GPU, Emil Touray, said the Gambia Press Union partnered with government and civil society with the objective of repealing the laws that prohibit freedom of expression to create an enabling environment for Gambia to have access to information and practice their rights of freedom of expression.

The training was timely and relevance for the socio economic development of the country, he added.

Madi Jobateh, the Deputy Director of TANGO, said freedom of expression was at the heart of free society and good governance and that all human rights are important.

The freedom of expression was the right that empowers and facilitates all other rights, he added, saying freedom of expression was the foundation in which sovereignty is situated.

Author: Rose Zahra Gomez