Jun 19, 2012, 2:39 PM
The International Press Institute (IPI) based in Vienna, Austria, from 9th to 16th September 2010 invited veteran Gambian journalist Pap Saine to receive an award as "One of the 60 World Press Freedom Heroes" over the years.
Pap Saine, 60, is the co-publisher and Managing Editor of The Point newspaper founded in 1991 by three Gambian journalists namely, the late Deyda Hydara, late Baboucarr Gaye and Pap Saine.
The IPI is the world's largest and oldest press freedom organization founded in 1950 as a champion of press freedom throughout the world. It is headquartered in Vienna, Austria. For over 60 years, the IPI, as the world's foremost crusader for press freedom and independent journalism, has championed the cause of press freedom throughout the world.
Since its inception in October 1950, the IPI has given awards to 60 journalists, 10 of whom were awarded this year including Pap Saine of The Point newspaper in The Gambia.
Pap Saine received the "World Press Freedom Hero" award in recognition of his courage and dedication to the principles of freedom of opinion and expression.
After receiving the award, Pap Saine said "It is an honour for me to receive such a prestigious award, particularly as a member of the Gambian press."
According to him, it is encouraging to be acknowledged as an advocate of press freedom. "Government and the press are partners in development, and should work hand in hand in maintaining this procedure effectively and ensure the free flow of information to the public. I personally would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the International Press Institute for giving me this award. My gratitude also goes to the all my staff for their tireless commitment and efforts in achieving such high standards, which is reflected in the achievement of this award," he said.
Mr. Saine also expressed gratitude to his family, business partner Mrs Maria Hydara and family, subscribers and advertisers.
"I would also like to use this occasion to thank the President of the Republic of The Gambia, President Yahya Jammeh, for pardoning me and my other five colleagues last year. I would like to also appeal to the government, in the light of this award, to review all the restrictions currently in place within the press laws, and to give easy access to information to the private media. The Gambia as a signatory of Article 19 of the UN Convention should promote a free press and divergent views. Therefore, I would like to appeal to our readers, the NGOs, advertisers, international community and our government to help us achieve the sustainability of our paper.
"It is our responsibility as journalists to present unbiased reports of any occurrence in the public domain to the people of The Gambia.
"I cannot forget my late colleagues who were my partners in setting up this paper on the 16th December 1991. They are the late Deyda Hydara who was murder on the 16th December 2004 and the late Baboucarr Gaye, who passed away in 28th October, 2008 respectively. We fought and struggled together to make sure that a tabloid paper was established in the country to promote democracy, good governance, fight against corruption and serve as a mouthpiece for the voiceless people. May their souls rest in perfect peace, Amen.
On the eve of the award ceremony, the IPI hosted a dinner in honour of the 60 World Press Freedom Heroes and 300 guests including journalists and business people.
The President of Austria, Heinz Fischer, attended the dinner and made a speech to welcome the delegates.
On Tuesday 14th September, the delegates went to Slovakia, where a conference was held attended by the Prime Minister of Slovakia, Mrs. Iveta Radi_ová. (See our next edition for the speeches of the President of Austria and Solvakian Prime Minister).
It should be noted that in December 2006, The Point newspaper received an international award in Germany - the John Phillip Palm Prize.