‘Free speech, free media are fundamental, non-negotiable’
By Sanna Camara
In commemorating the World Press Freedom Day, The Gambia Press Union and its civil society partners have called on government to reconsider the closure of Teranga FM, Standard newspaper, and The Daily News.
“We are making our appeal because the GPU is of the firm belief that the closure of those media houses adds nothing to the development of the Gambia. And since we are all in the business of national development, each of us must be a contributor to that development,” the Executive Director of the GPU, Gibairu Janneh said.
Mr. Janneh made this call at the Policy Dialogue forum convened at TANGO (home of civil society in The Gambia) secretariat today, where the Minister of Information, Mr. Nana Grey-Johnson was key note speaker.
“On behalf of the Gambia media fraternity the GPU is appealing to government through you, to re-open the three media house closed down in august and September 2012,” Janneh added.
First government minister to grace such an occasion
Also adding his voce to this call was Madi Jobarteh, deputy director f TANGO. He noted that in recent years, Minister Grey-Johnson was the first government minister to grace such an annual occasion of the media practitioners.
“I think this is the first time we have a minister address this gathering. So we congratulate him for that. We very much appreciate that initiative,” he said.
Expectations of the media practitioners
He added: “While we welcome that, we have our expectations… and the executive director of the GPU has highlighted those expectations: we expect these media houses to re-open.”
“We also expect media laws and other laws that are not compatible with free speech and media to be reviewed and brought into a mode that is conformity with our constitution. And of course, with the obligations that the government f the Gambia has placed on itself by signing international instruments at various levels…,” Mr Jobrteh said.
A new reproachment
He sounded upbeat that this is going to be a beginning f a new reproachment that is going to turn a new page and see the Gambian media fulfilling their constitutional responsibility, which places an obligation on the media to hold the government of the Gambia accountable to its people.
“In that regard, free speech, free media are fundamental, they are non-negotiable,” he argued.