Gambia will today join the rest of the world to celebrate World Press Freedom
Day. The day provides a perfect opportunity to assess achievements made as far
as press freedom is concerned. It also accords a platform for multiple actors
to exchange on current issues, threats to freedom of the press.
The celebration comes at a time when the country has been widely recognised for its remarkable efforts in ensuring press freedom in latest RSF index world ranking regrouping. Out of 180 states, The Gambia is ranked 92 for the year 2018. In 2017, The Gambia was ranked 122.
In 2017 The Gambia was ranked 34th in Africa and in 2018, it clinched ninth among the 48 member states. At this point, kudos to media practitioners for their professionalism and commitment to press freedom. Despite their numerous challenges including finance, cost of printing materials and the running cost in general and delay in subscription payment by government, the media is maintaining its stance by informing the society.
Suffice it to state that challenges facing journalists in The Gambia and around the world is more or less similar. From arrest, threats and detention, journalists around the world continue to suffer in the hands of those who feel threatened; and most of the times the powers that be.
We want to thank government for according journalists an enabling environment to do their job without interference, as in line with their editorial policies. Since 2017, there has been no reported arson attack against media houses as it happened in the past dispensation.
The Education levy that required media houses to pay D100.000 has been abolished effective this year, and the media houses especially print are very grateful to the current administration for the move.
Journalists in The Gambian have a reason to rejoice when it comes to press freedom, considering the unprecedented level in the number of radio stations and licenses to operate private TVs.
Also, press releases are frequently issued from the Office of Director of Press and Public Relations and journalists are allowed to cover events at State House. All these were not possible during the past regime. Now, the government’s immediate action should be; to abolish draconian media laws, ensure early payment of bills to media houses and provide more training for journalists.
Friendly countries should also help media houses with equipment to promote democracy, good governance and rule of law.
Government should continue to promote cordial relations with the media and journalists should be always objective and avoid ‘fake news.’ They should verify information before publishing or broadcasting stories.
Happy World Press Freedom day!
“In a democracy, you need to have a strong judicial system. You need freedom of speech, you need art, and you need a free press.”