By Landing Ceesay
The Gambia Press Union (GPU) President, Muhammad S. Bah described as “apt and timely” the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission’s recommendation for the government to do reform of the security sector and train the personnel to understand journalism and the importance of the media and freedom of expression in a democratic government.
“This recommendation is apt. It is indeed good and timely. It’s part of GPU’s initiative for the security to understand the work of Journalists. This will increase the understanding of the security and help towards the protection of the safety of Journalists. We have seen how Journalists were harassed by the security apparatus over the last years. I believe with the full implementation of this recommendation, there will be no harassment of journalists by rue security and that Journalists can have a favourable atmosphere to do their work,” Muhammad S. Bah said.
Commenting on the report of the TRRC overall, the GPU President said it contains many recommendations for progressive reforms including media reform.
“The report also contains those adversely mentioned for grossly violating the rights of individuals, including journalists. I am hoping that the government will come up with a white paper before the end of the five months left. Also, the white paper will not be biased, but would rather ensure that the victims get the justice they deserve for the greater good of this country. The government should also consider the recommendations put in place towards the independence of the press and media freedom,” he said.
Bah encouraged the media to ensure that people understand the content of the report as well as monitor the process for accountability.
“The media has a role to play in this process. I urged the media fraternity to popularise the TRRC and ensure that it is understood by each and everyone. Also the media should be monitoring the process and ensuring that the government is held to account in the implementation of this great report,” President Bah said.
Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and necessity for promoting public participation, accountability and democracy in any country. The right to freedom of expression extends to holding, receiving and imparting opinions, ideas and information.
The former President Yahya A.J.J Jammeh severely suppressed Gambian journalists and the media fraternity. During his reign, Deyda Hydara co-founder and managing editor of The Point Newspaper was shot dead; Chief Ebrima Manneh, former staff of the now defunct Daily Observer Newspaper disappeared and later confirmed kill, the Independent Newspaper was set ablaze, and some journalists were unlawfully arrested, detained, tortured and jailed; and few went into exile, etc.
These recommendations of the commission are in volume 7 of its report on the attack on the media and freedom of expression, under Jammeh. The TRRC report that was submitted to the Gambian President-elect, Adama Barrow in November was made public on 24 December.
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