By Binta A. Bah
As Gambia mark world press freedom day, the country’s press union has once again called on the government to uphold constitutional provisions that guarantee press freedom and freedom of expression.
On May 3, executive director Jibairu Janneh of the Gambia Press Union, said reminds government of its commitment towards media freedom.
“We call on The Gambia government to recognize and uphold section 207 of the Constitution which demands the press be free at all times…,” he said.
Gathered at Tango, Gambia journalists mark the day to remember many journalists who have died or faced jail just for bring news to the public.
World Press Freedom Day is an annual observance established by the United Nations in 1993 to support freedom of expression, defend the media from attacks and pay tribute to journalist who lost their lives in the excise of the professionalism.
It is an opportunity to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, assess the state of press freedom throughout the world, defend the media from attacks on their independence and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Matar Jobe of the National Commission for UNESCO in Banjul, observed that “only when journalists are at liberty to monitor, investigate and criticize policies and actions can good governance exist.”
Jobe said vibrant, independent media that hold government leaders to account are a valuable ally in the pursuit of development and good governance.
He said it everyone’s business to make sure there is free and safe environment for journalist around the world.
Beyond supporting Gambian journalists with training, he said, the Gambia government should create an open political space that allows news media to report on issues of public interest.
Sam Sarr, an editor of the pro-opposition Foroyaa newspaper said: “Freedom of expression ensures transparency and accountability… free media contribute to good governance.”
Sarr was presenting a paper on “free media contribute to good governance, empowerment and eradicating poverty” during which he explained how media serves as medium for the voiceless for change and development.
African leaders often promise to protect its citizen according to Sam, but its people have no say in the way they are governed.
In a solidarity statement to jailed Ethiopian journalists and bloggers, Baboucarr Ceesay said “we need a free media without intimidation.”
Ceesay, a vice president of the GPU, also called on the government to produce missing journalist ‘Chief’ Ebrima Manneh, compensate of tortured journalist Musa Saidykhan, and investigate the killings of journalists Omar Barrow and Deyda Hydara.
Ousman Yarbo, executive director of Tango, said “journalism provides a platform for informed discussion across a wide range of development issues – from environmental challenges and scientific progress to gender equality, youth engagement and peace building.