GPU commemorates World Press Freedom Day

Friday, May 04, 2018

The Gambia Press Union (GPU) which seeks to uphold the general welfare of press men and women in the country has joined the world yesterday to commemorate the day set aside to celebrate gallant men and women who goes to the extremes to provide information.

In commemorating the day at the University of The Gambia’s Auditorium in Kanifing, the union held a forum which dealt on this year’s theme “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law.

The day’s commemoration was centred on the significance of the media in keeping the government and its leaders on their toes and at the same time accountable to the governed, promotion of justice and the rule of law.

Speaking at the occasion, Demba Ali Jawo, the minister of Information, Communication and Infrastructure said this year’s theme obviously falls in line with efforts that the government of The Gambia, particularly his ministry and the ministry of Justice, have been engaged in for the past 15 months.

“This is in cognizant of the need to create an enabling legal and policy framework to ensure respect for freedom of expression and media freedoms as enshrined in the 1997 Constitution,” he said.

He added that it is quite evident that freedom of expression, including media freedoms, are fundamental ingredients for the success of all actions “we take in the name of the Gambian people and, that the media are at the cutting edge of civic engagement.”

“As an executive, we have the responsibility to remove legal and institutional obstacles as well as take other measures to develop a fully informed society to allow for a free and responsible media; and to protect the media as a necessary adjunct to democracy and good governance.”

However, he said, to enable them urgently remove obstacles to the dissemination of information and divergent views, provide a strong statutory framework to create an enabling environment for journalists and media workers, his ministry is faced with the challenge of striking the right balance between freedom of speech, access to information and the fundamental standards of responsibility and fairness.

As such therefore, he added, “we have put in place a media law review committee representing a cross section of the society, including government, the National Assembly, members of civil society and media actors.”

Earlier Thursday, the government of the Gambia through the Information Ministry issued a solidarity statement in which it said that the day reaffirms its commitment to the promotion of justice and rule of law.

According to the statement “The Gambia has gained 22 points on the Reporters Sans Frontiers World Press Freedom Index; and that during the year 2017, there were zero recorded abuses to the rights of journalists”

“These positive developments have been registered, as the government of The Gambia is aware that “New Gambia” will have no meaning when the media is oppressed and the information suppressed,” the statement said.

The statement also said the new trend of a more favourable media ranking is set to improve as it’s in line with the government’s efforts to creating an enabling environment for the protection of journalists, media workers and media freedoms.

Author: Sankulleh Gibril Janko