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FLARE commemorates World Press Freedom Day

May 16, 2011, 1:05 PM

In recognition of the importance of World Press Freedom Day, and of a free press in particular in the fulfillment of the human rights and development of the people of The Gambia, the Foundation for Legal Aid, Research and Empowerment (FLARE) on Saturday organized a seminar to commemorate World Press Freedom Day.

Held at the Gambia Press Union offices in Bakau, the day-long seminar brought together senior journalists and editors from both the print and electronic media.

This year's World Press Freedom Day theme: 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers, seeks to reaffirm fundamental principles of media freedom in the digital age, the ability of citizens to voice their opinions and access diverse, independent information some 20 years after the original declaration was made in Windhoek, Namibia.

The day saw presentations on Media Laws in The Gambia - Prospects and Challenges by Almami Fanding Taal, chairman of FLARE and on the Role of the Media in National Development by Madi Jobarteh, coordinator of FLARE.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Alieu Sagnia, the ICFJ country director said the occasion is a collaborative effort with FLARE to commemorate World Press Freedom Day.

According to him, the ICFJ (International Centre for Journalists) has embarked on a new project in The Gambia, which started late last year, and is a partnership project involving the ICFJ, Gambia Press Union (GPU) and FLARE.

"It is a 20 months program, which seeks to collaboratively work with the GPU and FLARE to hold training workshops and seminars," he said, adding that the project also seeks to develop the media in The Gambia.

In his presentation, Almami Fanding Taal underscored the importance of justice in our societies, something he said we are all yearning for.

Taal told participants at the seminar that for a community to be successful, it needs laws, noting that all our criminal laws have their origins from the colonial days.

"Societies cannot exist without laws," he said.

He added that crime and punishment is not the only objective of the law, but noted that people are entitled to live a dignified life.

Madi Jobarteh described development as an inalienable human right.

"It is about human beings as the owners of the resources and wealth of a nation. It is about how citizens benefit, own and manage the resources of their country," he said.

According to Jobarteh, the struggle for liberty and democracy has always utilized the press as a tool, which can be seen in the histories of liberation struggles around the world.

He added that all democratic constitutions and governments respect, protect and fulfill the rights of the media.