Apr 27, 2011, 2:45 PM
The opposition Gambia Moral Congress (GMC) has condemned “in the strongest terms conceivable” the order for the cessation of operations of Teranga FM radio station, a commercial radio station based in Sinchu Alagie village in the Kombo North district of the West Coast Region.
In a statement sent to this paper, the GMC said the relentless and persistent guerrilla-style attack against the private media has to stop, and should attract immediate, clear and specific consequences.
While calling on the government to create enabling sustainable environment that would effectively empower the Gambian media to fulfil its constitutional mandate to the nation, GMC said the latest unacceptable escalation in the persecution of the media, is both unconstitutional and in conflict with The Gambia’s obligations under international law, including the ECOWAS protocols.
Below we reproduce the full text of the GMC statement verbatim:
The media in The Gambia reels from yet another devastating assault with the reported second closure of Teranga FM Radio in Sinchu Alagie, an order delivered to its management by personnel of Gambian law enforcement close to midnight two days ago.
The very choice of that dreadful hour in addition to the capricious raid of Teranga FM premises by a contingent of law enforcement personnel was calculated to send a chilling message to media professionals. The relentless and persistent guerrilla-style attack against the private media has to stop, and should attract immediate, clear and specific consequences.
The station has become a very dependable source by many Gambians, particularly those who cannot read or write, of divergent political views and other topical issues, including a consistent review of local newspapers in local languages.
The authorities have been reminded times galore that freedom of the press is an entrenched elemental constitutional provision, and it is now more than evident that the intent to weaken the media is a policy commitment.
The right of the public to information is a cardinal principle of democracy. The right of the media to disseminate information in a civilised society cannot be taken away by any government that calls itself a democracy. The litmus test for democratic governance is tolerance of divergent views, and the ability to propagate them without superficial encumbrances from those in authority.
GMC condemns in the strongest of terms conceivable, this latest unacceptable escalation in the persecution of the media, which is both unconstitutional and in conflict with The Gambia’s obligations under international law, including the ECOWAS Protocols.
We call on Gambians, civil society and the international community to assure the protection of media professionals in The Gambia, and to help catalyse the institutionalisation of permanent practical support mechanisms under which the media shall flourish.
An endangered media translates to an endangered polity. Freedom of expression and of the press, are shared values with the international community and both values remain under ferocious threat in The Gambia.
GMC once more urges The Gambia government to create enabling sustainable environment that would effectively empower The Gambian media to fulfil its constitutional mandate to the Nation at all material times.
We call on the authorities to comply with the laws of the land and The Gambia’s international obligations with respect to press freedom, and terminate the persecution of journalists and media houses. The Gambian media and the public deserves better from those who swore an oath to protect and defend the constitution.