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Media Reporting On Sensitive Security Matters

Lieutenant General Yakuba A. Drammeh
Chief of Defence Staff, Gambia Armed Forces

The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) observes with great concern, recent upsurge in the context of publications, radio and television programmes on sensitive security matters, which have the potential to shake our National Security fabrics especially when not accurately and carefully presented. It is important to highlight that national security pillars exist for the common good and for all and sundry. Therefore, persons with platforms reporting on security related matters should ensure factual and balance reporting in order to champion the ideals of good and professional journalism and its inherent ethical values that we so cherish.  The GAF has time and again clarified salient issues with the required time and effort necessary for highlighting verifiable facts in order to avoid premature narrations and/or conclusions.

Therefore, in a bid to encourage media operations base on freedom of expression while at the same time maintaining peace and tranquility, the above concerns are henceforth flagged for consideration on reporting security and sensitive issues. Furthermore, the GAF will be more than willing to provide security briefings for the consideration of media persons wanting to travel to the general Foni belt. In a similar vein, for those still traveling across our Southern border with Senegal for reporting on topical security issues, it may be important to indicate that the area is still volatile and therefore considered a high risk zone. Therefore, those concern are strongly advised against undertaking such endeavours without receiving prior security briefings from the GAF in regards the security situation in that general area. This is for purposes of raising their alert level in order to ensure personal safety and security as well as the maintenance of peace and order within the country.

Most importantly however, the media is also advised to be cautious when reporting sensitive conflict issues to avoid derailing efforts aimed at breeding peaceful coexistence in the interest of maintaining National Security and societal cohesion. In the same vein, the media is further advised against anchoring live phone-ins and panel discussion programmes on ongoing security operations, which can impact negatively on national security. Wherein live phone-in programmes and panel discussions are required, it is desirable to extend formal invitations to subject matter specialists/experts for a meaningful and balance interpretation of security related issues. This is in line with established international best practices.

In view of the above, the GAF once again reiterates the continuous maintenance of its open door policy that is well intended as it serves the primary purpose of bridging the civil-military information divide. Therefore, GAF solicits the continuous support from the media to clarify issues with its Directorate of Press and Public Relations on sensitive security matters especially, that which borders on troops’ welfare and morale in order to have a balance assessment of the situation. Of consequence otherwise, would be a potential degeneration of the national peace we all enjoy, as when chaos befalls, no one would emerge as a winner given the daily struggles we encounter at family levels in putting food on the table as a people. Therefore, all must play a responsible and constructive part as main stakeholders that all may live in unity, freedom and peace each day. It is therefore encouraging to note that civil-military relations have moved to an unprecedented fraternal level and we look forward to a more rewarding relationship both in recent times and in the future.

The understanding and continuous cooperation of the media and the general public is duly sought.

Source: Gambia Armed Forces (GAF)

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