Gambia: Stifled media calls on government to uphold press freedom

4 May
Ebrima Manneh

Journalists ‘Chief’ Ebrima Manneh went missing in Gambia in 2006, his whereabouts remain unknown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

This year’s theme for this day, as declared by the UN, is “Media Freedom for a Better Future: Shaping the post-2015 Development Agenda.”

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.

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2 Responses to “Gambia: Stifled media calls on government to uphold press freedom”

  1. Iyel Bey (@iyel_bey) May 12, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

    I think someone got things a little confused. Being a journalist does not mean that you are not constrained by the same laws which you ask the government to uphold. Freedom of the press does not mean freedom from all constraints. Those who claim journalistic license are quick to claim a freedom which supersedes government oversight or regulation. Just because you are a member of the press does not mean that you are exempt from the laws which govern the nation. If you don’t like the elected leadership, why not use your great power to educate the public about the great things you would do as a leader and encourage them to vote for you.


    • Michael Corker May 15, 2014 at 11:09 am #

      I disagree Iyel Bey. I am not a journalist but I know that no responsible journalist will claim as you said journalistic license for a freedom that supersedes government oversight or regulation. It’s plain as you know it: Government regulation must not be aimed at stifling press freedom and free expression, journalism also have ethics and I know you know that responsible journalists wherever in this world should follow internationally and locally accepted ethical guidelines.


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