By Landing Ceesay
The Republic of The Gambia has been ranked 50th on the Press Freedom index globally out of 180 countries. The Press Freedom Index is an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by Reporters Without Borders since 2002. It is based on the organisation’s assessment of the countries’ press freedom records in the previous year. The Press Freedom Index intends to reflect the degree of freedom that journalists, news organisations, and netizens have in each country, and the efforts made by authorities to respect this freedom. Following the 22-year dictatorial reign of Yahya Jammeh, The Gambia has seen considerable progress in terms of press freedom. In 2021 the Gambia was ranked 85th globally moving two places after being ranked 87th in 2020. Attacks on journalists have decreased since, and new media outlets have been launched.
“A law on access to information was adopted in 2021. This was a historic moment in a country that, for the first time, recognized information access as a human right. The Supreme Court in 2018 ruled that “criminal defamation”, “Libel” and “False news online” are unconstitutional. This was a notable advance, tempered by the fact that draconian media laws passed under Jammeh remain in effect and still carry prison sentences for journalists,” -Reporters Without Borders said. This year’s annual ranking of 180 countries according to the ability of journalists to report freely on their countries shows that while no African nation is among the eight countries where the state of press freedom is “good”, none of the G7 groupings of nations fall into that category either. The 2022 index judges press freedom as “satisfactory” in seven African nations: Seychelles (ranked at 13 in the world), Namibia (ranked at 18), South Africa (35), Cape Verde (36), Cote d’Ivoire (37), Burkina Faso (41) and Sierra Leone (46).