“On World Press Freedom Day 2018, I call on governments to strengthen press freedom, and to protect journalists. Promoting a free press is standing up for our right to truth.” — António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.

At the national front this, The Gambia Press Union on May 3, 2018, will champion the celebration under the theme global: ‘Keeping Power in Check: Media Justice and The Rule of Law.’  The event will be observed in partnership with UNESCO.

This year’s World Press Freedom Day focuses on the importance of media in keeping the government accountable to the govern, while promoting justice and rule of law, according to the Union.

 On the global front, the theme of the 2018 celebration highlights the importance of an enabling legal environment for press freedom, and gives special attention to the role of an independent judiciary in ensuring legal guarantees for press freedom and the prosecution of crimes against journalists.

At the same time, the theme addresses the role of the media in sustainable development, especially during elections - as a watchdog fostering transparency, accountability and the rule of law. The theme also aims to explore legislative gaps with regard to freedom of expression and information online, and the risks of regulating online speech.

According to Alh. Ngaing Demba Thomas, a free press along with an independent judiciary is essential for the protection of human rights. One of the surest protection for democracy is free and open exchange of ideas and criticism. In a democratic society public officials must be held accountable for their actions and a free press is the people’ watchdog. The press must be free to investigate and to publish what it finds true even if it embarrasses or hurts the careers of powerful figures in or out of office.

The press in the Gambia has endeavoured throughout the years to persistently continue to play the role of a watchdog and also the creator of directions for the common good. The press in the Gambia greatly contributed over the years towards sharpening of peoples’ awareness towards national issues by providing the citizens with factual information. This role of the press as a medium of mass education is a necessary criteria for a balanced democracy.