By Dawda Baldeh
As dozens of journalists took the street on Saturday morning from the Alliance Frances to the traffic light celebrating the international day to end impunity for crimes against journalists, The Gambia Press Union (GPU) urges the government of The Gambia to condemn crimes against journalists.
Speaking to those who took to the street; Lamin Jahateh The Gambia Press Union (GPU) program manager said the international day to end impunity for crimes against journalists is a very significant day for journalists to reflect on their safety and security. “As we all know the environment and climate that journalists are operating on is getting more tension and dangerous” he said.
Jahateh said the day is organized by the United Nations for three reasons. First is to urge each member states of UN to prevent any form of violence against journalists. Second is to investigate on all the assaults and crimes perpetrated on the media and the third is to make sure that victims get justices.
The GPU present a Research document on crimes perpetrated against journalists and a Position Paper to the ministry of information for the safety and security of journalists. “We want the government to provide a law that will criminalize any form of assaults to the media and also take proactive effort in the safety and security of journalists”.
We also want the human right commission to take proactive measures on the safety of journalists.
According to global statistics, the total number of one thousand two hundred (1200) journalists has been killed during exercising their duties for the past 14 years. In The Gambia, from 1994 to 2016, the total number of one hundred and fourteen (114) incidents was registered by the GPU against the media over the past 22 years.
The journalist were told over the past 22 years of dictatorship, journalists has been faced so many violations such as tortures, imprisonment, and murder. The following were murdered; Deyda Hydara in 2004, Omar Barrow, Chief Ebrima Manneh, whiles others suffered from other forms of violations.
The state securities and politicians were held responsible of assisting and victimizing journalists. “Journalists are not enemies to the state” Jahateh said.
Honorable minister of information Ebrima Sillah said; the government has no other relevant partners on sharing information to the public than the media. Sillah added that the media is playing a vital role in helping the government to achieve its goals. He said the safety of the journalists must be guaranteed at all the times.
Hon Sillah further promised to table the two relevant documents that are presented to him by the press union before the parliament and to open discussions on the issue he guarantee. “We recognize the efforts of the media in bringing the democracy in the country”, he said.
We don’t only assure your freedom of press but to assured you that the securities and politicians will also be train on the safety of journalists he said. Minister Sillah ended by saying the government will work with other critical stakeholders to bring justices for journalists. The media plays a role in educating, informing and entertaining the public. We encourage the government to investigate on the crimes against the media.