Nov 18, 2009, 3:32 PM
It is disturbing that a senior journalist from The Point has been singled out and informed that his organisation should not have carried out the function for which it was established. We refer to the fact that Abba Gibba has been informed by Magistrate Edrisa Fafa Mbai that the paper should not have published the story regarding Hon. Ebrima Jammeh's comments on the effect of drawn out court cases on the terrible situation which arose at Babylon.
The Point is a newspaper and it has the responsibility to its readers and the general public to report what is said in a public forum. In this case the forum was the greatest public forum in The Gambia, the National Assembly. The National Assembly is where the people of The Gambia have their say. Through a democratic process they elect representatives to go their and speak for them, raise their concerns and enact legislation which will improve their lives.
This is exactly what the Foni Bintang representative was doing. It is his right to raise the concerns that he did and it is the right of The Point to publish his remarks.
People in this nation struggle every day and work hard to feed themselves and their families. For this reason they cannot go to the National Assembly every day and view the proceedings that are affecting their lives. They rely on the media to report what has been said and what legislation has been enacted.
Everything that is said in the National Assembly is a matter of public record. The public must have access to it because it belongs to the public. The words spoken by elected members are the words of their people and we must never forget this.
To deny the media the right to report what has been said in a public forum is an attempt to hinder or restrict free speech. We as journalists have a duty to report what has been said and nothing and nobody should interfere with this.
If the people do not know what goes on at their National Assembly how can we expect them to feel any sense of ownership in the democratic process come election time? An informed electorate is an essential part of the democratic process. Through the media the people can monitor the work of their representatives and assess their performance. This will allow them to make an informed choice when that candidate seeks reelection.
What was published in The Point was fact and nothing else, even if the National Assembly concerned appear not to get all the facts right, as a rejoinder from the office of the Chief Justice suggests. The paper and the journalists in question did their job perfectly in reflecting accurately the words of an elected representative of the people of The Gambia. They should not be critisised for doing this; they should be praised and thanked.
"The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves."