Feb 16, 2009, 4:26 AM
Following their release last Thursday 3rd September 2009 on a presidential pardon, the six Gambian journalists Pap Saine, Sam Sarr, Ebrima Sawaneh, Bai Emil Touray, Sarata Jabbi-Dibba, Pa Modou Faal have expressed their reactions to the pardon. Below is the full text of their reactions.
Pap Saine - Managing Director/ Editor of the Point and Dean of Reuters Correspondent
First of all, I would like to thank the Almighty Allah and the President of the Republic Yahya Jammeh for granting us amnesty in this holy month of Ramadan, which is indeed timely as we have reunited with our families.
We as journalists have no grudge or hatred against anybody, more so the President and his government. He is the President of all Gambians and as journalists, especially we at the Point would continue to do our job without fear or favour. We are here as watchdogs and to make the government accountable and nothing else.
Also as journalists, we would continue to promote divergent views. Despite all odds, we at The Point would continue to cover both government and non government activities. Government and the press are partners in development. We are not enemies and we are not in the opposition. Our role is to guide government whenever they are wrong, give them credit where it is due. I took the whole process in good faith. It was God's desire that such kind of things will happen.
I believe it is also timely that government appoints a Director of Press and Public Relations and a Minister of Communications and Information Technology, who will be the mouth piece of government. This will no doubt help a great deal as it will help journalists clarify certain information when ever they arise. The Police should be commended for having a Public Relations Officer who is always willing to clarify information.
Am also appealing to government to repeal all draconian laws of the press that were enacted in 2004. As a democratic country, we should also uphold freedom of expression, which is indispensable in any democratic society. My final appeal to the President is for him to grant amnesty to Ndey Tapha Sosseh, President of the Gambia Press Union so that she can come back home. This should be done in the spirit of the holy month of Ramadan, a month of forgiveness.
My thanks go to my able staff at The Point, who despite the tough times remained dedicated and committed to the work. I must thank them for their courage. I would also like to thank my family members, friends, colleagues and the international community for their support.
My special thanks also go to the Director General of Prisons and his able staff especially Commissioner Faal at Jeshwang Prison for the respect, commitment and professionalism demonstrated during our detention period.
Ebrima Sawaneh - News Editor, the Point
I would first of all like to thank the Almighty Allah who has made it possible for us to reunite with our families. I would also like to thank the President for giving me and my colleagues a presidential pardon in the spirit of the holy month of Ramadan.
Mrs Sarata Jabbie-Dibba, Senior Staff Reporter, The Point
I would first of all like to thank the Almighty Allah for given me the strength to cope with the situation I had undergone. I would also like to thank the President for the pardon.I would however like to appeal to government to have in mind that that the Gambia Press Union has no hatred against the government. We are just partners in development.
I would like the whole world especially Gambians to know that we are not criminals and we are not bad citizens. We are good citizens of this land and the Gambia Press Union is here to serve the whole country. We all have the development of this country at heart because after all, we are all Gambians and have nothing but our country.
What happened was just a misunderstanding between the Gambia Press Union and the government. We would like to assure the general public that we are always ready to serve them as expected of us.
I would also like to commend our team of lawyers especially the female ones for their commitment. My thanks also go to the Prison authorities for a job well done during our stay at the prison. I would also like to commend the general public and the international community for their efforts and the press in general.
Pa Modou Faal, Senior Staff Reporter, The Point
First of all, I would like to thank the Almighty Allah and the President for the pardon given to us. My point is that the media should be seen as partners in development but not as enemies. There should be an open door policy between the government and the media; media-government relations should be cemented for the development of the country.
We as journalists do not have any hatred against the president or government. Our problem is the lack of access to information from government. Government should see the media as partners in development and the media should equally see government in that respect.
At the end of the day, we are all brothers and sisters. The country belongs to all of us and no body else. I believe a new page should be opened between the government and the media and work together for the development of the country. Government should open its doors to the media to avoid any misunderstanding.
In conclusion, we should not see each other as enemies but as partners in development. I would also like to commend the prison authorities in Jeshwang for their commitment and professionalism in the discharge of their duties.
Sam Sarr, Editor Foroyaa
I believe that granting us pardon is a step in the right direction. What has happened has happened. We have been granted presidential pardon, we will accept it in good faith and will continue our work in a professional and responsible manner. That is what I have to say.
Bai Emil Touray, Sub-Editor Foroyaa
I wish to make it categorically clear that the Gambia Press Union welcomes this move by the president for the fact that we believe that this is in the right direction.
It is not in our interest, its not in the interest of government to say that we have problems for the fact that this country belongs to all of us. And I would want to say that we would continue moving heaven on earth with the view to ensuring that we see how best we can cement the relationship between us and the government.
And henceforth, I would like us to work as partners. It is not good that we character assassinate each other or accused each other. I believe that people sometimes misunderstand each other often not because they want to do so but because they have not engaged in dialogue. I think dialogue is the best way we can solve our problems.
Note: The reactions of Sam Sarr and Bai Emil Touray were reproduced as reported on GRTS television.