Saine, co-publisher of The Point newspaper who doubles as the national
correspondent for Reporters Without Borders (RSF), on Friday returned from
France where he attended a three-day international meeting for RSF
The meeting held at RSF headquarters in Paris, from 2nd to 4th October 2017, was attended by correspondents from 47 African countries. It was the first time when RSF organised such a meeting for its correspondents.
In Africa, RSF covers 47 countries but at the Paris meeting, it was decided that the Arab countries, mainly North African nations, will meet in Tunisia, because of the language barriers. Globally, RSF covers 194 countries.
Speaking to journalists at a press conference held at his residence in Latrikunda Sabiji, Mr Saine said the three-day international meeting was meant to create a platform for the correspondents to better know one another and also make an assessment of the work done by RSF.
The correspondents also had the opportunity to do a presentation of the leading challenges confronting media freedom in their respective countries.
Mr Saine said among the issues discussed was the need for better working relations between RSF and its correspondents in Africa, by way of giving them more training so as to do their job much better and for RSF to be organsing meeting for correspondents each year, either in France or another African country.
At the meeting, the participants tasked RSF to channel all the problems of African journalists through the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, African Union and other international bodies, like ECOWAS and other countries to engage African government to promote press freedom without any hindrance, abolish draconian laws, access to information, protection of journalists against hostility.
Meanwhile, Mr Saine said most of the Francophone countries’ correspondents thanked their governments for the annual subvention given to the media in those countries.
He said Anglophone countries’ correspondents made it clear that most of them did not receive any form of subvention.
For the case of The Gambia, Mr Saine commended President Adama Barrow’s government “for bringing back press freedom after 22 years of suppression.”
“At the forum, I told them that in The Gambia now journalists work without fear and they sleep well and access to information is much better now unlike during the former dictator’s government,” he said.
“The only problem that The Gambian journalists are facing is advertisers in government’s institutions don’t pay in time when it’s due and this has affected tremendously the production of the newspapers in The Gambia.”
He said this new government had promised to abolish draconian media laws and work amicably with the press, adding that during former President Jammeh’s tenure, journalists were terrorised, arrested, detained and killed.
“With this new dispensation of Barrow government, the media is liberalised, commercial radio stations are doing press review, which was not allowed before, and people now express their views on national matters,” Mr Saine said.
He explained that each of the 47 correspondents of RSF at the meeting was tasked to report on press freedom in their respective countries and they made a recommendation that all the top brass of RSF should visit Africa periodically, especially countries where the press is oppressed.
The co-publisher of The Point said he seized the opportunity of the France meeting to outline some of the pressing issues affecting the Gambian media houses, such as the non-payment of advertisements on time and the lack of subvention from the government.
He then called on the government to endeavour to pay their advertisements on time. He also spoke about the need for responsible journalism, saying that journalists should report objectively, professionally and without bias.