Gambia Press Union

THE GAMBIA PRESS UNION CONSTITUTION

THE GAMBIA PRESS UNION

CONSTITUTION

PREAMBLE

We the journalists and media practitioners of The Gambia,

Recognising the role of the journalist and media as a whole in the promotion and protection of rights and freedoms in any society which serves as a means to ensure peace, social justice, security and the advancement of national development;

Aware of the importance of the media and freedom of speech in society as enshrined in Section 25 of the 1997 constitution of the Gambia; Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; 

Emboldened by Section 207 of the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia and the ratification of regional and international human rights conventions and treaties by the Government of The Gambia which seek to promote and protect rights and freedoms;

Willing to play a crucial role in the development process of The Gambia, Africa and the world with total commitment to reporting the truth and abiding by the rules and ethics of journalism;

Cognizant of the rapid changes and transformation taking place in our society socially, politically and economically, technologically;

Conscious of the right of the people to be informed by the media on matters of public interest so that they may exercise their rights and duties;

Reaffirming the GPU Vision “to ensure a media friendly society enjoying freedom of expression and access to information”, and its mission “to create an enabling environment for the protection and empowerment of journalists”, declare that,

CHAPTER 1: NAME AND TITLE

Article 1                                                                                                                                                                                           1.  All members of The Gambia Press Union, conscious of the need to work together to achieve their common ends, hereby constitute themselves as a union, which shall be known as The Gambia Press Union, the GPU or the Union              

                                                                           CHARTER 2: AIMS

Article 2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The aims of the Union shall be:

1.       To promote and safeguard the corporate objectives, mission and vision of The Gambia Press Union;

2.       To promote and safeguard the rights, interests and welfare of members;

3.       To promote and defend the right of freedom of expression which shall include freedom of the media and professional independence in journalism;

4.       To promote and protect the right to freedom of information;

5.       To encourage the media in The Gambia to make available to the people  diversity of views and opinions;

6.       To continuously  improve the professional standards of the media and media practitioners as well as the ethics of the profession in The Gambia through facilitating training among others;

7.       To strive for all state owned media to accord fair opportunities and facilities for the presentation of divergent views and dissenting opinions as required by Section 208 of the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia;

8.       To facilitate communication among members in order to generate better understanding in the media community;

9.       To promote cooperation  with affiliate bodies and other  media organizations and journalists associations around the world;

10.   To engage in social activities to raise the interest and enthusiasm of members in their work; and provide social, financial, legal and moral support to members;

Article 3

1.       The above Aims shall be pursued through:

a.        Discussions and negotiations, consultations and any other peaceful industrial action, including peaceful demonstration, within the union and the media community; as well as with other third parties such as the government of The Gambia and its affiliate institutions and agencies such as the security agencies among others on matters affecting the conditions and environment in which the media operate;

b.      The Union shall be non-partisan. However, it shall have both professional and trade union pursuits to promote and protect the interests and welfare of its members;

c.       The Union will engage in networking and partnership building to expand and solidify support for its causes;

d.      The Union will embark on building public awareness of the role and importance of the media in national development;

e.      The Union will engage in the capacity building of its members in order to develop their skills and knowledge in the profession.

CHAPTER 3: MEMBERSHIP

Article 4                                                                                                                                                                       

      1.   Membership to The Gambia Press Union shall be voluntary.

2.       Membership shall be open to all media practitioners in the print, broadcast, Internet fields and photojournalism in The Gambia.

3.       The Executive Committee may confer honorary membership on individuals who have not ordinarily qualified for membership under the preceding paragraphs but who have shown exemplary interest in the Union and/or have contributed substantially to the development of the media.

4.       A student pursuing a recognized and/or accredited journalism/communications training course, or a senior secondary student engaged in journalism shall be entitled to be a student Member.

5.       Every person who, immediately before the coming into force of this Constitution, is a member of the GPU, shall remain a member of the Union.

6.       A media practitioner who wishes to join the Union shall apply by filling in an application form and submitting it to the secretariat.

7.       The Executive Committee shall, upon full completion of an application form, consider the approval of the application for membership at its next monthly meeting.

CHAPTER 4: ORGANIZATION

Article 5                                                                                                                                                                                          1.  The Union shall be composed of the following organs:

a.       General Membership

b.      The Executive Committee

c.       Ad-hoc Technical Committees

d.      Advisory board

2.       The Union shall operate through:                            

a.       General meeting of the membership

b.      The Executive Committee

c.       Ad – hoc technical committees

CHAPTER 5: GENERAL MEMBERSHIP

Article 6                                                                                                                                                                       1.  The General Membership shall comprise all members of all categories and ranks and it shall be the highest decision and policy making body of the Union.

CHAPTER 6: EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

Article 7                                                                                                                                                                              

1.       The Executive Committee is answerable to the General Membership.

2.       The Executive Committee shall be the main organ responsible for the implementation of the policies, plans and decisions of the Union.

3.       The responsibilities of the members of the Executive Committee shall be covered by their respective job descriptions as stipulated in Annex B, Executive Committee.

4.       The President shall not serve more than two three-year terms

5.       The Positions in the Executive Committee shall be as follows:

1.       President

2.       First Vice President

3.       Second Vice President

4.       Secretary General

5.       First Assistant Secretary General

6.       Second Assistant Secretary General

7.       Treasurer

8.       Two ordinary Members  (1 Female, one male)

CHAPTER 7: MEETINGS OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

Article 8

1.       The Executive Committee shall convene Monthly Meetings and issue written Quarterly Reports accessible to all members.

2.       The quorum for any meeting of the Executive Committee shall be five.

3.       All decisions of the Executive Committee shall be taken by a simple majority.

CHAPTER 8: TERMS OF OFFICE

Article 9   

1. An elected member of the Executive Committee, unless he/she is removed or vacates office in accordance with this article, shall serve for a term of three years.

2. A member of the Executive Committee may be impeached and removed from the Executive Committee for any of the following reasons:

i.                Misconduct

ii.              Fraudulent activities

iii.             Abuse of office

iv.            Incapacity

3.       A member of the Executive Committee who is absent from three consecutive meetings of the Executive Committee without valid excuse shall vacate his/her seat.

4.       In the event of any vacancy for whatever reasons in the executive committee the seat so vacated shall be filled in accordance with Article 13 paragraph 4.

CHAPTER 9: GENERAL MEETINGS

Article 10:

1.       The Executive Committee shall convene an Annual General Meeting.

2.       The Annual General Meeting (AGM) shall take place in December each year.

3.       The Agenda of the Annual General Meeting shall include the following items:

i.                Annual Report of the Executive Committee by the President;

ii.              Financial Report by the Treasurer;

iii.             Audited Report of the previous year by an External Auditor

4.       The Agenda of the Annual General Meeting may also include such other items as may be proposed by the Executive Committee or by at least one third of the members of the union in writing.

Article 11:

1.       The Agenda and Reports of the Executive Committee shall be circulated to the members at least five (5) working days in advance of the Annual General Meeting. In the case of Extraordinary General Meeting the Executive Committee may waive this time limit.

CHAPTER 10: EXTRAORDINARY GENERAL MEETING

Article 12

1.       An Extraordinary General Meeting shall be convened by a decision of the Executive Committee or at the written request of at least One-third of the members of the Union.

2.       The request shall state the Agenda of an Extraordinary General Meeting.

3.       The Executive Committee shall convene an Extraordinary General Meeting of the General Membership within 10 days of the submission of a written request.

Article 13                                                                                                                                                                                        1.   The proceedings at all general meetings of the Union shall be governed by the Rules of Procedure set out in Annex A.

 

CHAPTER 11: ELECTORAL SYSTEM AND POLLING OFFICERS

Article 14                                                                                                                                                                                   1. Elections of members to the Executive Committee shall be conducted at a Congress every three years by secret ballot.

2.       All fully paid up members of the Union shall be entitled to vote or be voted for.

3.       The election shall take place no later than 31st December.

4.       In the event of vacancies in any position in the Executive Committee the assistant will accede to the vacancy until the next annual general meeting or extraordinary general meeting when the position shall be filled.

5.       No Proprietor or part owner of a media house shall be eligible for election to any position in the executive committee.

Article 15                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. The Union may engage the services of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for the purposes of conducting elections and announcing results of election of the Executive committee members.

CHAPTER 12: RELATIONS WITH OTHER MEDIA ORGANISATIONS AND UNIONS

Article16                                                                                                                                                                                             1. The Union may maintain close relationship with other media organizations and unions in or outside of The Gambia for the promotion of the welfare and interests of members and the promotion and protection of freedom of the press.

CHAPTER 13: FINANCE

Article17                                                                                                                                                                                          1. The Fiscal Year of the Union shall run from the first day of January of each year to the last day of December of the same year.

Article 18                                                                                                                                                             

1. The revenue of the Union shall be derived from membership subscription fees, dues contributions fundraising, grants, endowments, consultancies and contracts from other parties, and through fund-raising efforts as deemed necessary and advisable by Executive Committee.

2. Every member except students and Honorary Members shall contribute a monthly subscription.

3.       The monthly subscription payable of member shall be D25 (twenty-five dalasis), until such a time when amount is reviewed by the Executive Committee and approved by the General Membership.

Article 19

1.       The treasurer shall have custody of all the funds of the Union.

2.       He or she shall act as the disbursing officer of the Union

3.       He or she shall organize and arrange for the collection of the subscriptions of the members of the Union.

Article 20 

1.       The funds of the Union shall be deposited in a bank to be selected by the Executive Committee.

2.       The treasurer and the president and the executive director shall be co-signatories of all accounts of the Union. Two signatories shall suffice to withdraw cash from the bank account.

3.       Every expenditure, pursuant to the objectives of the Union must be properly documented and approved by the President of the Executive Committee, subject to funds being available.

4.       The Executive Committee shall cause not more than 15 percent of the funds of the Union to be deposited in a savings account.

5.       Any excess funds shall be deposited in a fixed deposit account, or any other legal investment as the Executive Committee may decide.

CHAPTER 14: THE SECRETARIAT

Article 21

The secretariat shall serve as the operational headquarters of the Union. It shall be headed by an executive director who will be assisted by a staff including an accountant, a secretary, a librarian, a project assistant, an M&E specialist. 

CHAPTER 15: VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE

Article 22

1.       A call for vote of no-confidence in the President or any other Executive Committee member shall be put on the Agenda of a general meeting at the written request of at least two third of the members of the Union.

2.       A vote of no-confidence shall be presented with supporting documents.

3.       The defendant, against whom a vote of no-confidence is called, shall be allowed to present his/her case before a decision is made.

4.       A vote of no-confidence shall go through a 2/3 majority of members of the Union.

CHAPTER 16: GENERAL PROVISIONS

Article 22 ENTRY INTO FORCE                                                                                                                                            1. This Constitution shall enter into force upon its approval by the congress.

CHAPTER 17: AMENDMENTS

Article23                                                                                                                                                                

1.       Any amendment to this constitution shall be made by a two-third majority vote of all members of the Union.

2.       An amendment to this constitution shall enter into force following the result of voting unless the contrary is stated.

3.       All proposals for amendment of the constitution shall be done in writing by fully paid up members and forwarded to the Secretary General  at least three weeks prior to a congress

 

CHAPTER 18: DISSOLUTION OF THE UNION

Article 24                                                                                                                                                                                                   1. The Union may be dissolved by a two-third majority vote of all members of the Union and the disposition of the funds, assets and properties shall be decided by that same session.

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ANNEX A: RULES OF PROCEDURE OF GENERAL MEETINGS

GENERAL MEETINGS

Rule 1                                                                                                                                                                                             1. General Meeting of the Union may be held at the GPU Head Office premises, or elsewhere as the Executive Committee may decide

Rule 2                                                                                                                                                                                            1. The President of the Executive Committee shall preside over General Meetings unless he/she specifically requests, or the Executive Committee agrees by a simple majority to select a presiding officer for a particular occasion.

Rule 3                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Half of the membership of the Union shall constitute a quorum for General meetings

Rule 4                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. The President/Presiding Officer shall declare the opening and closing of each meeting, direct its discussions, ensure observance of these rules and announce decisions. He/she shall rule on points order. Subject to these rules, he/she shall have complete control of the proceedings and over the maintenance of order at the General Meeting.

Rule 5                                                                                                                                                                                                   1. Subject to the discretion of the president/presiding office, no intervention by a member of the Union on any agenda item shall exceed five minutes, unless a motion to permit him/her to continue is adopted by the meeting.

Rule 6                                                                                                                                                                                              1. The General Meeting shall adopt or amend the provisional agenda drawn up in accordance with the provision of Chapter VI, Article 8.

Rule 7                                                                                                                                                                                            

1.         During the discussion of any matter, a member may rise to a point of order and the president/presiding Office, shall immediately decide the point of order.

2.       Any member may appeal the ruling of the President/Presiding Officer.

3.       An appeal shall immediately be put to vote and, unless overruled by majority of the members present and voting, the President/Presiding Officer’s ruling shall stand.

4.       Members shall be accorded the right to speak in the order in which they apply.

Rule 8 

1.       Any draft resolution which any member or group of members wish to submit to a General Meeting shall, as far as possible, be submitted in writing at least five days before the congress.

2.       The precise final wording of any such resolution after its adoption by the congress shall be determined by the President/Presiding Officer in consultation with the sponsor(s) of the draft resolution and of any amendments adopted

Rule 9

1.       Each member of the Union shall have one vote.

2.       A resolution shall be adopted by a simple majority of the members present and voting.

 

3.       In the event of the votes being equally divided, the proposal shall be regarded as not adopted.

 

4.       If two or more proposals relate to the same question, congress shall, unless it decides otherwise, vote on the proposals in the order in which they have been submitted. The congress may, after each vote on a proposal, decide whether to vote on the next proposal.

 

5.       The President/Presiding Officer shall restate any motion before it is put to the vote

6.       All voting shall be conducted by a show of hands, unless the meeting decides that the voting should be done by secret ballot.

Rule 10

1.       The summary records of the General Meeting shall be drawn up under the responsibility of the secretary general.

2.       The summary records shall be available to any member of the Union.

Rule 11

1.       Any matter not provided for in the present Rules of Procedure shall be decided by the President/Presiding Officer, subject to the approval of the congress.

ANNEX B:                                                                                                                                                              ORGANISATION AND RULES OF PROCEDURE OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

Organization                                                                                                                                                                                 The Executive Committee shall comprise members elected every three years by secret ballot by fully paid up members as specified in Article 12 of the Constitution.

Executive Committee

1.       The Executive Committee shall comprise the following officers:

1.       President

2.       Two Vice Presidents

3.       Secretary General

4.       Two Assistant Secretaries General

THE Constitution of THE GAMBIA PRESS UNION

5.       Treasurer

6.       Two other ordinary members, a male and a female

3.       Any decisions taken by the Executive Committee shall be binding on the present Executive Committee.

4.       Any request for a reversal, review, and/or rescind of any decision shall be Voted/decided upon by a simple majority of the members of the Union

Sub-committees, Working Groups    

The Executive Committee may set up such sub-committees and/or working groups as are deemed necessary to deal with matters included in the programme of work. It may also assign relevant roles to individual Executive Committee members.

Pursuing justice for Gambia's Deyda Hydara

By Darian Pavli/CPJ Guest Blogger

December 16 will be the seventh anniversary of the killing of Deyda Hydara, the dean of Gambian journalism. It is also the 20th anniversary of the first issue of The Point, the courageously independent-minded daily that Hydara founded and directed for many years. He was murdered in a drive-by shooting as he drove himself and two staff members home from an evening of somber celebration at The Point's premises. He had received multiple death threats in the preceding weeks and months. In his last column, he vowed to keep fighting to the end for Gambians' right to speak their minds.

During his last years, Deyda Hydara was best known for two probing weekly columns. "The Bite" covered a broad range of matters of general interest. "Good Morning, Mr. President" discussed issues of governance and mismanagement, in a polite but incisive tone aimed directly at President Yahya Jammeh, the former junior army officer who has ruled the country since taking over in a coup 17 years ago. Treating Jammeh and his deputies as fallible, fellow human beings reportedly did not go down well at the presidential palace. While The Point continued to carry both columns for some time after Hydara's death, the intelligence service told the paper's management in 2006 that the outlet would be shut down if "Good Morning, Mr. President" was not discontinued.

The shutdown of media outlets and unpunished violence against media professionals are not exceptional events in the Gambia. In fact, being an independent-minded reporter in Jammeh's republic is a greater health hazard than perhaps anywhere else in the African continent. A few months before the Hydara shooting, in the summer of 2004, BBC reporter Ebrima Sillah was almost killed in an arson attack. The premises of The Independent newspaper were also set on fire, allegedly by members of the presidential guard, before the paper was finally shut down by the police, the entire management was rounded up, and its chief editor, Musa Saidykhan, brutally tortured--apparently for having complained to South African then-President Thabo Mbeki, at the time head of the African Union, about the media freedom situation in the Gambia.

Not surprisingly, not a single person has been brought to justice in all these years for attacks on journalists and other Jammeh critics, including Hydara. The president assigned the investigation of the Hydara shooting to the intelligence service, an agency better known for torturing, disappearing, and intimidating the victims of such crimes than catching the perpetrators. The report on their Hydara "investigation" devoted several pages to discussing the victim's private life, but gave almost no details on crime scene findings, ballistics, or potential political motives.

The regime seems to reserve a special scorn for Deyda Hydara's audacities, even post mortem. Jammeh tends to dismiss questions about the unsolved crime by pointing out, for example, that lots of people get killed in the Gambia every year. He attacked The Point, publicly and viscerally, for maintaining a "Who Killed Deyda Hydara?" banner on the front page. On the second anniversary of Deyda's death, the Gambia Press Union put up commemorative posters all over Banjul, calling for justice; they were all taken down overnight. And in January 2007, more than two years after his death, the Hydara family told me that the police refused to provide them with a death certificate so they could claim Deyda's life insurance (as an international correspondent). Not even death pays for one's political sins in the Gambia.

This month, my organization, the Open Society Justice Initiative, filed a lawsuit against the Gambian government, on behalf of the Hydara family, with a West African regional court. The court filing argues that not only has the Gambian government failed to conduct a proper investigation into the shooting, but that it contributed to the attack on his life (among others) by tolerating a general climate of impunity for violence against critics of the regime.

President Jammeh recently claimed re-election to another term in office, amid a chorus of electoral fraud allegations. ECOWAS, the West African states' organization, refused to send an observer mission, in protest against the lack of even minimal conditions for free and fair elections. Responding to charges of violent suppression of dissent, the president likes to say that his conscience is clean and that he fears "only Allah." In the meantime, the Hydara family and many others in the region are looking for some overdue, earthly justice from the ECOWAS Court.

This is the third case before the ECOWAS Court involving attacks against Gambian journalists, with the tribunal having already found the government responsible for the disappearance of Ebrima Manneh and the torturing of Saidykhan. The Gambian government has failed to comply with either ruling. It is time for the ECOWAS Community to decide whether the Jammeh government meets the minimal conditions for membership in a democratic club.

GPU Comes to Saikou Ceesay’s Rescue

By Abdoulie Nget

As part of the fulfillment of their expected duties, the Gambia Press Union have solely paid an amount of100 ,000 Dalasis (approximately 3,300 US Dollars) for the immediate release of Journalist Mr. Saikou Ceesay, who work for The Daily News.

Saikou Ceesay was released on Tuesday from police custody after he was arrested on Monday in connection with the ongoing case of the former Daily Observer Sports editor Nanama Keita, who jumped bail and now lives in the United States of America.
The Daily News reporter provided surety to Nanama Keita, who was standing trial for “giving false information” to a public officer. This was after Kieta petitioned the office of the president protesting his wrongful termination from the observer company.
In a rare move of solidarity, family members joined by a good number of Gambian local journalists stormed the Police Headquarters in Banjul on Tuesday in order to know what would be Saikou Ceesay’s faith. Lawyer Neneh Cham deployed tremendous efforts to make sure that he can be granted bail.
He was later granted bail against 2 sureties provided by the Gambia Press Union’s First Vice-President Baboucarr Ceesay and a family member.
Appearing in court on Wednesday 2nd November, 2011 before the Banjul Magistrates' Court, he was asked by the court to pay the bail bond he signed during his course of bailing Nanama Keita who is now on exile or to go to jail.

Through fruitful discussion with the GPU authorities, Emil Touray, the president of the Gambia Press Union left the secretariat with the 100,000 Dalasis in cash to rescue the journalist Saikou Ceesay who is also a member of the GPU executive committee.

GPU Granted Observer Status by ACHPR

After applying under the ARTICLE 19/GPU EC funded project recently, The Gambia Press Union has for the first time was granted an observer status by the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights session, which is ongoing in The Gambia.

This will accord GPU the opportunity to table their progresses, shortcomings and huddles faced in trying to seeking as well as disseminating information for the commission to hear, they can as well seek support from the commission to help approach The Gambian government to introduce freedom of information law.

The news emerged as good news to all media practitioners and the people interested in press and media freedom in the country. Aloa Ahmed Alota, the executive director of the Gambia Press Union (GPU) expressed his delight about the news by saying that is excellent news. “It is a turning point in the history of the GPU. I can't wait to celebrate - there will be a big party at the Secretariat in late November to coincide with the safety and security training workshop.”

He thanked the almighty for the success and everyone who has helped in this process.

Commendations are coming from various people who are always seeking to see the GPU and The Gambia media progress in the fight for freedom of information well as access to information.

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Information Minister Tells Journalists: ‘Don’t Be Partisan’

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The Gambia’s minister for Information and Communication Infrastructure on Monday warned against a polarised media industry, urging Gambian journalists to observe neutrality in party politics. “As media practitioners, you should guard your integrity, be sincere, truthful, and accurate, and be impartial because you have an obligation to provide a truthful, comprehensive and intelligent account of daily events to the society,” said Minister Alagie Cham in a statement read on his behalf by information directress,  Aisha Davies during a week-long long training for twenty Gambian journalists on “International Standards for Freedom of Expression for Journalists at Gambia Press Union secretariat. Under the auspices of Gambia Press Union and Article 19, the programme is funded by the European Union (EU). “As journalists, you should be non-partisan. You should make sure that you weed out the sensation and focus on the matter,” he said. Minister Cham said, Gambia government attaches a lot of importance in the development of the media in Gambia. This, he added, is manifested by the proliferation of newspapers and radio stations in recent years.

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Training on Int’l Standards on Freedom of Expression begins today

A group of 20 Gambian journalists are expected to begin a training on International Standard on Freedom of Expression, today, 3rd October, 2011, at the Gambia Press Union (GPU) Secretariat along Garba Jahumpa Road in Bakau.

The training, organised by Article 19 in partnership with the GPU and funded by the European Commission (EC), will last till the 7th October, 2011.

Topics that will be treated during the training include: Freedom of Expression under International Law; Freedom of Expression under African Regional Standards; GPU Self regulation; Protection of journalistic sources; Legal protection in cases of violence against journalists; Defamation and international standards of Freedom of Expression; Right to information under International Law and most importantly, Freedom of Expression and National Security, amongst others.

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Reform of the media dominates landmark Commonwealth forum in Gambia

By Trevor Grundy

Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA) London

THE GAMBIA, Africa’s smallest country and an intriguing microcosm of all the hopes and problems that impact on the world’s largest but hungriest continent, is now open to a full debate on laws that affect the freedom of the press. 

Speaking at a five-day media Forum and Capacity Building event convened by the Commonwealth Secretariat in collaboration with the Management Development Institute and the Gambian Government in Banjul from 1-5 August (2011), Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Momodou Tangara told delegates:

”The hosting of this Forum and Workshop in The Gambia is timely and commendable as they no doubt unleash the potential of media practitioners and enable them to use the skills and knowledge gained meaningfully.

“Efforts to set up the School of Communication at the University of The Gambia is a step in the right direction.

“This way our practicing journalists, who are largely high school leavers, would have the opportunity to learn about the media and practice the profession in the best and most mature way. 

“Please allow me to express our commitment as a government to enhance and develop the media and our recognition of its invaluable role in the socio-economic development of nations.”

Dr Tangara spoke after the Forum drew a series of recommendations that called for the reform of the legal environment, capacity building and greater networking among journalism schools in the region and other parts of the Commonwealth.

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Gambia, Zambia, Africa Revisited and London in Flames

WE’D FLOWN into Banjul, capital city of Africa’s smallest country The Gambia (which tourists annoyingly call The Zambia) at the end of July to conduct a week-long training seminar for young radio, TV and print journalists at the local university. The training workshop was organised by the Commonwealth Secertariat in London with members of the Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA) making up the team of trainers. It all went well and on the final day a crowd of us from UK, Uganda, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, India and Kenya celebrated at the five star Sheraton Hotel, fighting off the heat and humidity with endless bottles of  ice-cold JulBrew beer. It was the month of Ramadan so our beautifully turned out students – about 40 of them – had nothing to eat from 6 am until 8 pm – not even a glass of water in the fierce heat. I heard  no single word of complaint. When classes ended at the legal affairs department of the University of Gambia  at 5pm, students went outside, laid out their prayer mats and paid homage to Allah. Food seemed the last thing on their minds.by Trevor Grundy (CJA member)
About 90 percent of the Gambia’s 1.7 million people are Muslims and relations with the 8-9 percent Christian minority are good. I said to Amos Chanda, the personable Zambian journalist and media consultant from Lusaka: ”Things went well, Amos. I think they learned a great deal from us.” We mentioned the discipline of the Gambian students, their charm, alertness, their thirst for knowledge and hunger for  “foreign” contact and support at a time when the freedom of the press in their country (and in my own) is in danger.

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The Gambia open to debate on media reform – ministers

Commonwealth convenes landmark media forum in Gambian capital Banjul

The Gambia is open to debate on media reform, which it recognises as critical to economic and political development, Gambian ministers said on 1 August 2011.

Foreign Affairs Minister Momodou Tangara and Information and Communication Infrastructure Minister Alhagie Cham told local and international media, Gambian civil society, diplomats and communication scholars, that their government recognised media as important agents of development and were prepared to do their part in promoting that notion.

But the ministers also urged media to show greater responsibility, maturity, objectivity and professionalism, in order to be the genuine voice of the voiceless and a true guarantor of good governance.

The ministers spoke at the opening of the five-day Gambia Commonwealth Media Forum and workshop – hailed as the first opportunity for debate on media freedom and practice in the West African country, one of the 19 Commonwealth members from Africa. The Commonwealth Secretariat convened the event in collaboration with the Gambian Government and The Gambia’s Management Development Institute.

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Ex-GPU President, Dr Scatred Janneh, others face treason charges

The state has finally preferred charges of treason against Dr Amadou Scatred Janneh, former communications minister.

The state also now announced the same treason charge against Ms Ndey Tapha Sosseh, former president of the Gambia Press Union, Mathew K. Jallow, US-based Gambian, and one Famara Demba.

Dr. Janneh also faces a two-count charge of seditious acts alongside Michel C. Ucheh Thomas, Modou Keita and Ebrima Jallow, all of whom were previously arraigned at the high court in Banjul.

During their appearance at the Special Criminal Court yesterday, both Janneh, Thomas, Keita and Ebrima Jallow denied the charges preferred against them.

However, Ms Ndey Tapha Sosseh, Mathew K Jallow and Famara Demba are said to be out of the jurisdiction of the court.

State prosecutors accuse Dr. Janneh on count one of treason, stating that he conspired with Ndey Tapha Sosseh, Mathew K. Jallow, Famara Demba, and others at large on  26th May 2011 in diverse places in the Republic of The Gambia to overthrow the government of The Gambia.

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Browsing Freedom Newspaper Costs Editor Keita His Job

Pro-government Daily Observer newspaper’s sports editor was fired after he was discovered to have browsed Freedom, a U.S based Gambian online newspaper, Observer’s acting editor-in-chief has revealed.

 

Mr Nanama Keita is alleged to have presented false information to a public officer when he petitioned The Daily Observer managing director to the president’s office on allegations of financial malpractices at the company, following his dismissal, he calls wrongful.
Editor Keita however denied any wrong-doing
“When it was realised by the IT expert that Mr Nanama Keita had browsed the Freedom newspaper, the MD [Pa Malick Faye] was left with no other option but to sack him,” Editor Alagie Jobe testified in a crowded courtroom on Monday at the Banjul Magistrate’s Court.
Critical to the regime of President Yahya Jammeh, Freedom is a Gambian online newspaper owned and edited Pa Nderry Mbai, a U.S based Gambian journalist. Journalist Mbai had worked for The  Daily Observer and later The Point newspaper before he left for U.S. in 2004. 
In his testimony, Editor  Jobe said, the article on alleged financial malpractices against The  Daily Observer’s managing director, Pa Malick Faye published on Freedom came after MD Faye privileged him to control a vehicle allocated to the editorial desk.
“I head the editorial department and the accused is answerable to me,” he said.

Click News on Top Left to read more

‘Former GRTS reporter has case to answer’

Dodou Sanneh, former reporter with the Gambia Radio and Television Services, who is being tried for allegedly giving false information, was yesterday told by the court that he has a case to answer.

This followed a ruling by Magistrate Manyima Bojang of the Banjul Magistrates’ Court on a no-case submission made by his defence counsel, Borry Touray.

When the case was called, defence counsel Borry Touray told the court that the defence was applying to make a no-case submission on behalf of the accused person.

“I humbly submit that the prosecution has failed to make any prima-facie case against the accused person, and as such the court should dismiss the charge and discharge the accused person,” he said.

Counsel added that the offence before this court was, giving false information to a public servant, adding that if one of the ingredients failed then the prosecution has failed to make any prima facie case against the accused person.    

Counsel at length stated that since the Office of the President is not defined by the constitution as a public servant, then the prosecution had failed to proof a prima facie against the accused person.

Click News on Top Left to read more

NaNA Briefs Journalists on World Breastfeeding Week

By Amie Sanneh

The National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) Yesterday held a press briefing in observance of World Breastfeeding Week celebrations to brief journalists on the importance of the theme and its activities. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Talk To Me! Breastfeeding- A 3D Experience.
Speaking to journalists, the Executive Director of NaNA Modou Cheyassin Phall said, 1st August every year marks the beginning of the celebration of World Breastfeeding Week observed worldwide. In the Gambia, according to him, it is observed throughout the month of August.

Click News on Top Left to read more

MEDIA HAS KEY ROLE IN DEMOCRATISATION AND GOOD GOVERNANCE Says Ambassador Ayo Oke of the Commonwealth

By Ousman Sillah

“The media has three key roles in contributing to democratisation and good governance, namely, as a watchdog over the powerful, promoting accountability, transparency and public scrutiny; as a civic forum for political debate, facilitating informed electoral choices and actions; and as an agenda-setter for policy makers, strengthening government responsiveness to social problems and to exclusion,” said Ambassador Ayodele Oke, Special Adviser and Head of Africa Section in the Political Affairs Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.
This remark was made by Ambassador Oke in his address during the opening of the 1-5 August Commonwealth Media and Development Forum and Capacity Building hosted by the government of the Gambia in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat, at the Sheraton Hotel near Brufut.
The Commonwealth Head of Africa Section said a vibrant media is indispensable for promoting good governance considering that journalists play a critical role in the decision making process by drawing attention to policy debates, disseminating valuable information, and holding governments accountable. He however noted that this is not always the case as media practitioners sometimes miss or misinterpret events.

Click News on Top Left to read more

New GPU Executive Up To the Task

In its first media dispatch signed by outspoken secretary general Jibairu Janneh, the newly elected nine-member executive committee of Gambia Press Union (GPU) pledges to champion the course of freedom of expression in non-press free Gambia.

The executive committee of Gambian journalists’ umbrella body also expresses commitment to promoting the welfare of generally underpaid, ill-equipped Gambian journalists.

Cognizant of the fact that our mandate revolves around promoting the welfare of journalists and championing the course of press freedom and freedom of expression in The Gambia, we guarantee the general membership of the union, partners and the public at large of our resounding commitment to the demands of our mandate and as well solicit collective support and commitment, to advocate for our common aspirations,” the release states.   

The Foroyaa newspaper news editor, Bai Emil Touray led executive committee was on Sunday elected to run the affairs of the union for the next years at the end of a three day triennial congress.

Click News on Top Left to read more

Outgoing GPU Prexy Congratulates New Executive

Exiled former president of The Gambia Press Union (GPU), who was voted out last weekend at the Union’s triennial congress, has passed on good wishes to her replacement, Mr Bai Emil Touray and team.
“I write to congratulate you on your election as president, executive members of the Gambia Press Union,” Ms Ndey Tapha Sosseh said.
The Gambian journalists’ umbrella body’s first women president was denied a second and final term of office after steering the affairs of the Union in the last three years.
She took over the leadership in 2008 from the publisher of The Daily News, Mr Madi Ceesay, who stepped down after the elapse of his three year tenure.
Despite many challenges, Ndey and team’s tenure have witnessed remarkable improvements in GPU, especially in terms of capacity building for journalists and enhancing the financial status of the Union.
She was nominated for the presidency in absentia, but lost to her secretary general, Bai Emil Touray, who has been in GPU executive for the past six years.

Click News on Top Left to read more

 

 

 

GPU Elects New Executive

A new nine member executive committee of Gambia Press Union (GPU) was yesterday elected into office.
The event marked the end to a three day triennial congress, which was marred by heated debates on issues affecting the country’s media landscape and welfare of journalists.
Among the three presidential contestant, Bai Emil Touray, editor of Foroyaa Newspaper emerged the winner.
The former GPU secretary general polled 36 votes compared to Famara Jawneh, deputy editor in chief of The Point and Ndey Tapha Sosseh, outgoing president who collected 19 and 14 votes respectively.  
“The election of the new executive is a victory for democracy,” Mr Touray told The Daily News.  “Union members had the liberty to exercise their rights to take part in the Congress.”
Mr Bai Emil Touray is an experienced Gambian journalist. He worked at Daily Observer and later resigned on professional grounds.
At the 2008 congress, he was elected as secretary general after serving a three year term as assistant secretary general.  
Aware of the hostile media environment amid harsh anti media laws, Mr Touray promises to continue engaging Gambian authorities with a view to creating a conducive media environment.
“This will be a difficult task, but I believe we can achieve it with patience and perseverance,” he admitted.  
Meanwhile, Mr Baboucarr Ceesay, an editor of The Daily News has been elected as first vice president.
Mr Ceesay, also an experienced journalist who worked at Foroyaa, The Voice and Today, polled 45 votes against Mr Hatab Fadera Daily Observer’s presidential affairs correspondent who polled 19 votes.
With 41 votes, Amie Sanneh-Bojang of Foroyaa newspaper also triumphed over Mr Sanna Camara of The Standard as second vice president.
The nominations of Mr Gibairu Janneh of Daily Observer, Mr Madi Njie, a freelance journalist and Lamin Njie, an editor and newsroom coordinator of The Daily News went unopposed as secretary general, first assistant secretary general and second assistant general respectively.
Same situation went for the treasurer, Ms Haddija Jawara of Market Place magazine.
While Abdoulie John of JollofNews and Yai Dibba of The Point lost to Saikou Ceesay of The Daily News and Sarjo Camara of Foroyaa newspaper respectively.

Author: Ebrima Bah

 

NDEY TAPHA SOSSEH's ACTIVITY REPORT

OUTGOING GPU PRESIDENT, NDEY TAPHA SOSSEH
ON THE OCCASION OF THE TRIENNIAL CONGRESS
OF THE GAMBIA PRESS UNION
GTMI HALL
SUNDAY, JUNE 6, 2011


Members,
Colleagues,
Partners,
Friends of the Gambia Press Union,


Having addressed you at the opening ceremony, through Pa Momodu Faal, outgoing treasurer,
let me express my delight at being able to join you by skype link this morning to account for
activities/resources that this Union executive led by me since March 22, 2008, embarked on,
implemented and spent in your name and on your behalf.
Three days of talks and discussions on the way forward is no easy feat, as I do have a lot to say,
I’ll go directly into my report.
Our three years and three months of tenure have been very eventful, very visible, most times
under the microscopic view of State and other interested parties and as such had us on our toes,
at all times. This, tiring as it may be, must be a good thing as we always felt pushed to deliver
and to be upfront in our dealings with our membership, partners and the State.

Click News on Top Left

GOODWILL MESSAGE TO GPU

The National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists – NUJ and President, West
African Journalists Association- WAJA, MUHAMMMAD GARBA, extends the goodwill of
both WAJA and NUJ to the Gambia Press Union as it convenes the Congress of its union
on Sunday, June 26, 2011. GARBA notes with satisfaction the very dynamic role played
by the union in recent years in encouraging the freedom of the press and in promoting
democracy.
Despite having suffered a number of setbacks severally, with the obvious but
unsuccessful attempts by government to control the media, GARBA condemns the
increased harassment of journalists in the Gambia, acts which he says are causing
frustration among media professionals in the country . He however commends the
resilience of GPU leadership and members, their commitment to freedom of expression
and the rule of law.

Click News on Top Left

International Federation of Journalists

From the President

 

Ndey Tapha Sosseh

President

Gambian Press Union

 

24th June 2011

 

Dear friends,

It gives me great pleasure to be able to congratulate you on your triennial congress today on behalf of the IFJ and its unions worldwide. This should be indeed a tremendous commemoration of journalism but also a wonderful tribute to what your union and its leadership have achieved.

The IFJ and its affiliates are indeed very proud of your resilience and determination to confront many of the tough challenges you have been facing in the last few years. You had to face up to colleagues being harassed, beaten up, kidnapped and imprisoned. At times you had to defend the very existence of your union. Most of the time, you had to learn to navigate through choppy political waters, lobby and stand up for the interest of your members. In the end, despite scary moments, you came out of it with flying colours. 

Click News on Top Left

OPENING CEREMONY OF THE TRIENNIAL CONGRESS OF THE GAMBIA PRESS UNION

WELCOME REMARKS BY GPU PRESIDENT, NDEY TAPHA SOSSEH

GTMI HALL, KANIFING

24-26 JUNE 2011

Colleagues and friends of the media, we are once again gathered here at the GTMI Hall to discuss and take stock and reflect on the activities, achievements, successes and failures of the Gambia Press Union, the current leadership.  The detailed agenda that had been circulated indicates to you all the seriousness of the deliberations and the need to add valuable input into the various texts proposed to strengthen the Union.

Before going further, I’d once again like to sincerely apologise that I am unable to be amongst you in person to partake in an event which I daresay is the most important, memorable and decisive event since my executive has taken over the mantle of leadership of the GPU.  Not only do I acutely feel my absence this weekend, but the fact that we cannot be together to take stock together, for the cause, the path, that we together set out on, three years ago on March 22, 2008

Click News on Top Left

A Brief History of The Gambia Press Union (GPU)

By Demba Ali Jawo

(Former President of the GPU)

The Gambia Press Union was founded in 1978 by a group of journalists in the private media, replacing the moribund Gambia Journalists Association. It became the sole organization representing Gambian journalists and among its objectives was to promote media freedom, professionalism and ethics.

Among its founding members were the late William Dixon-Colley, the late Deyda Hydara, and the late M. B. Jones. The only surviving member of that pioneering group is Pap Saine.

Click News on Top Left

Successes & Failures of GPU, delivered at the GPU congress, GTMI Kanifing. 26/06/2011.

By Madi M.k.Ceesay: CEO Media Agenda & Daily News.

Success

 

Gambia Press Union (GPU) was founded in 1978 by a group of private journalists under the leadership of the veteran Gambian journalist and publisher, the late Mr. W. Dixon Colley.    

The union has grown since then to where we are today. GPU has numbered more than a few hundred registered members many of whom are freelance journalists. Others work for both the print and electronic media including some in government service.

The GPU is a legally registered union that is dedicated not only to press freedom and media development, but also to the development of the country in general, and has under its umbrella The Association of Health Journalists, The young journalist in the media, the Sport journalist, and a host of other group of journalists practicing in the country.

GPU aims to be a champion of press freedom and the right of journalists to practice their profession in The Gambia. To that end it has taken issues with the government of the day in both the first and the second republics and is particularly concerned about the anti-press legislation programme of the present government. Through mass sensitisation campaigns and court action, it has succeeded in having the government repeal the Media Commission Act with its draconian provisions and repressive measures.

Currently, the union is seeking to bring about further reforms in the law, particularly the recently introduced Criminal Code (Amendment) Act 2005, the Newspaper (Amendment)   Act 2004 and Decree Numbers 70 and 71.  The GPU has also organized and co-organized conferences and workshops on press freedom, freedom of expression, democracy and development.

Ø  The most outstanding achievement that GPU as an organization is proud of; is the maintenance of its democracy. Since 1978 when it was founded there were regular congress where members take major decision, as who should lead them.

Ø Succeeded in having the government repeal the Media Commission Act with its draconian provisions and repressive measures.

Ø Build capacities of several journalists (GAMES) Various disciplines: Investigative reporting; photography; lay outing; and so on

Ø Currently the GAMES project is about to complete with a high level programme in journalism.

Ø The GPU is able to come up with income generating project likes printing press. First in 2007. Where a printing press was secured to help meet some expenditures.

Ø Recently another printing press is available and put at the disposal of the GPU to help generate some funds in other to further build capacities of its members.

Ø GAMPRINT is another project in place; this project is able to bring down cost of newsprint.

Ø GPU whose members use to meet in the BBC hall before moving to the offices of the Point newspaper has for several years got itself a functional secretariat. Fist at Fajara, then Serekunda and along Garga Jahumpa road new town Bakau.

Ø The union successfully conducted a media observation the 2006, presidential elections.

Ø We are also able to sit on the highest decision making body of the media in 2007/8/9/10. IFJ Executive member, FAJ Executive member and Second vice president WAJA respectively.

Ø GPU is also among its success was able to maintain its unity. It refuses to be divided by forces anti-media progress. As has happen to other unions like GAMSU. That is an admirable success.

These are all success the Gambia Press Union was able to attain in the immediate past.

v The Gambia Press Union had always stood firm its ground and never allows to be derailed from her track since 1978. The GPU has and continuous to stand for the welfare of its membership and beyond.

v Once a journalist, and is facing difficulties, whether you a card holder or not, whether one is a Gambian or not, once you are a journalist GPU always play its role in the defense of the journalist and the profession.

v GPU, was never involve in party politics, nor does the GPU involves itself in unlawful practices.

v So it’s true that GPU kept its agenda relevant.

 

Failures

I am asked to talk on the failures and successes of our dear union. It was all not successes but we failed in some areas. It is only fair   that where we fail is also highlighted.

Ø  The fact that it is seven years down the line we are not able to make a head way into uncovering the identities of the killers of our colleague, late DEYDA HYDARA. We should be able to use our investigative skills as journalist and uncover these cowards. Is a failure.

Ø The same goes for Chief Ebrima Manneh. Both colleagues are gone and we cannot do anything about it.

Ø As a union we also fail to set up a self regulatory body to take care of our humanely mistakes. It’s long overdue and something needs to be done about that, the sooner the better.

Another area we fail is influencing a better media / government relationship, after all efforts. That success cannot be achieved by one party, it’s a dual responsibility.

GPU CONGRESS

MEDIA RELEASE

22 JUNE 2011

BANJUL

GPU CONGRESS

The triennial congress of The Gambia Press Union (GPU) is slated for 24-26 June 2011, at The Gambia Telecommunications and Multimedia Institute (GTMI). There will a capacity-building training on 24-25 June. Voting will take place on Sunday, June 26 2011. Only paid-up members are eligible to vote and be voted for at the congress.

The voters’ list is already published at the GPU Secretariat, 5 Garba Jahumpa Road, Bakau Newtown. Members are advised to check up their status on or before 6pm on Thursday, June 23, 2011.

SIGNED

Emil Touray

Secretary General

STRENGHTENING THE GPU: A DETAILED ANALYSIS OF THE PAST, CURRENT SITUATION, ACTIONS TO CONFRONT FUTURE CHALLENGES

Triennial Congress of the Gambia Press Union

GTMI Hall, KANIFING

24-26 June 2011

Programme


DAY ONE – Friday June 24 2011

9.30am – 10am – Coffee/tea

10:00am -10:30am OPENING CEREMONY

Ndey Tapha Sosseh; Welcome Remarks, President, GPU

Emil Touray Secretary General, Overview of Programme Expectations

Chair, Ahmed Alota, GPU Coordinator

 

10:30am -12:00 noon SESSION ONE

1)      The GPU; Reflections of the Past, Challenges and Achievements

          ·         Background leading to GPU’s Formation; Role of the Union,  

       challenges of setting up -  Cherno A Jallow, Former GPU Secretary General

        (30mins)

·         The Struggle to remain relevant, successes and failures of the GPU -

          Demba Jawo or Madi Ceesay, Former GPU President (30mins)

·         Discussions (Participants) (30mins)

Chair, Sam Sarr, GPU Advisor, Editor, Foroyaa Newspaper

 

12:00 non-1:30pm SESSION TWO

2)      WHERE WE ARE NOW - Perspectives of the Current Leadership

·         Analysis of Survey on Working Conditions of Journalists in The Gambia; 

          Collective Bargaining Efforts; What has been done, what needs to be 

          done  – Bai Emil Touray

·         Safety/Security of journalists; Press freedom and political pressure; Engagement of the union in the public debate on democratization and reform – Ndey Tapha Sosseh

·         Discussions (Participants) (30mins)

Chair, Pa Modou Faal, Treasurer, GPU

 

1:30-2:30 LUNCH BREAK

2:30pm-4:00pm SESSION TWO (Continued)

3. Capacity Deficits; Impact of Partner Interventions

·         The GPU/GAMES Partnership Activity – Lars Moller or Birger, GAMES

·         The GPU/Article 19 EU Project, the raison d’etre -  Fatou Jagne Senghore,

            Article 19

·         The ICFJ Project in The Gambia – What Possibilities for Gambian

          Journalists Alieu Sagnia, Coordinator ICFJ Media Capacity Building Project

Chair: Louis Thomasi, International Federation of Journalists Africa Office

END OF DAY ONE

DAY TWO – Saturday June 25, 2011

REMAINING RELEVANT; STRATEGIES, RECOMMENDATIONS AND PROPOSALS FOR THE WAY FORWARD

9.30am -10am: Coffee/tea

10:00am-11:30am SESSION ONE

3)      Introducing the GPU Strategy

·         An Overview of the GPU Revised Strategy – Ahmed Alota (1HR)

·         Discussions (30 Mins)

Chair, Bai Emil Touray, SG

11:30am-1:00pm SESSION TWO

4)      Expectations of ordinary members, associate members; the nature and definition of sub-groupings their relationships with the GPU.  How to improve/strengthen relations.

·         An ordinary member’s view

·         AOHJ, SJA, NHRJ; Environmental Journalists (they should select their

         speaker)

·         Recognising/Empowering GPU Diaspora Groups (The role of external

          networks in strengthening the Union

·         The role of press cards, its issuing – Bai Emil Touray

·         Organising and Recruiting – Ndey Tapha Sosseh

Chair:  Sainabou Kujabi-Njie

1:00pm-2:00pm LUNCH BREAK


2:00pm-3:30pm SESSION THREE

5)     Building a Stronger Union; An Expert’s View

·         Trade Union Structure and Functions – Pa Momodou Faal, Gambia

          Workers Union

·         Democracy and Collective Leadership – Madi Jobarteh, TANGO/FLARE

·         A Campaign Agenda; The fight to reform media laws; Expansion of the

          Space for Free Expression – Fatou Jagne Senghore

·         Discussions

Chair, Sam Sarr, GPU Advisor, Editor, Foroyaa Newspaper

3:30pm-6:30pm SESSION FOUR

6)     Building a Stronger Union; A Review of the GPU Constitution, Bye Laws and Regulatory Texts

·         An Introduction of the Revised Texts, Member Constitutional Review

          Committee (30mins)

·         GROUP WORK – INPUTS INTO REVISED TEXTS (1hr30mins)

·         Discussions/Plenary (30mins)

·         ADOPTING[1] THE NEW CONSTITUTION/BYE LAWS (30mins)

Chair, Sam Sarr, GPU Advisor, Editor, Foroyaa Newspaper


 END OF DAY TWO

 

DAY THREE – CONGRESS

Sunday June 26 2011

9.30am – 10am: Coffee/tea

 

10:00am -10:30am SESSION ONE

7)     SOLIDARITY STATEMENTS

·         WAJA President’s Statement

·         FAJ President’s Statement

·         IFJ President’s Statement

Chair: Pa Modou Faal

10:30am-1:30pm SESSION TWO

8)     REPORTS OF THE OUTGOING EXECUTIVE

·         Statement of the GPU Outgoing Secretary General, Bai Emil Touray

·         Report of the GPU Outgoing Treasurer Pa Modou Faal

·         Activity Report of Outgoing President, Ndey Tapha Sosseh

·         Discussions (1hr)

Chair: Mr Madi Ceesay

1:30pm-2:30pm LUNCH BREAK

2:30pm-6:30pm SESSION THREE

9)     ELECTIONS

Chair: Independent Electoral Commission



[1] Please note that voting during the validation phase of the constitution/bye laws is exclusive only to members who have voting rights.

 

TRAINING COURSE ANNOUNCEMENT

Topic: International standards on Freedom of expression

Target group: Gambia journalists

Date: Monday 11 - Friday 15 July 2011

ARTICLE 19 and The Gambia Press Union (GPU) invite applications for a specialized training course on international standards on freedom of expression scheduled to take place from 11 to 15 July 2011 in The Gambia.

The training course is part of a year capacity building programme supported by the 9th European Development Fund and managed by ARTICLE 19 Senegal in partnership with the GPU to strengthen the capacity of Gambia media practitioners to deepen their understanding of freedom of expression standards and enhance their ability to contribute to democratic and economic governance in The Gambia.

This week-long programme offers a unique environment for journalists to reflect and examine in detail the key freedom of expression issues that most affect them.  It will include interactive case studies to ensure that theory is matched with practical exercises. In order to ensure that the training addresses the specific needs of the media practitioners’ a customized course material will be specifically designed to that effect using best practices. 

The training material on freedom of expression standards will compile key international and regional treaties, protocols other instruments on freedom of expression. It will also draw from ARTICLE 19 principles in these areas and the body of knowledge developed by national courts including in commonwealth countries and by human rights mechanisms.  This will also contain information from the experience the organisation has gathered from its work in other part of the world. This course material, besides the training will be a reference book for journalists.

The training will be conducted by renowned free expression experts from around Africa, Europe and Latin America.


Eligibility criteria: The course is open to all practising journalists in The Gambia, who have at least three years progressive experience on the job. Female candidates are encouraged to apply. The best 20 candidates will be selected for the course. A follow- up course is scheduled for October 2011 for the 10 best participants. 

Deadline for submission of application: Friday, June 24 2011.

Applications will only be accepted through email or online. Please visit www.gambiapressunion.org to download and complete the application form.  Then scan and send it as an attachment together with three samples of your journalistic work – print, audio, or visual - to gpu@qanet.gm  and westafrica@article19.org

In the event of difficulties with the online or email application for technical reasons, interested applicants must contact ARTICLE 19 or GPU prior to the deadline and arrange for an alternative.

Only selected applicants will be contacted, late or incomplete application will not be considered. Successful applicants will sign an attendance agreement prior to their enrolment for the course.

Certificates will be issued to participants at the end of the course.

 

FOE Application form

Please download this form and fill it in

APPLICATION FORM DOWNLOAD

--------------

FAJ Statement on the Non-Inclusion of Freedom of Expression in the Agenda of the NGOs Forum preceding the 49th session of African Commission on Human and People’s Rights

The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), the African Regional Organisation of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which represents more than 50,000 journalists organised in 41 journalists’ trade unions and associations in 39 African countries, expresses its disappointment over the  non-inclusion of Freedom of Expression as a panel item in the agenda of the NGO Forum preceding the 49th session of the African Commission on Human People’s Rights which is scheduled to take place on 25 – 27 April 2011 by the event’s host and the main organiser.

Click News on Top Left

Jammeh to news media: I set limits on press freedom

By Mohamed Keita/CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator

 

Last week, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh participated in a rare meeting with select members of the West African nation's press corps. Jammeh spoke in favor of access to public information. He announced that he would allow The Standard newspaper to resume publication, five months after the National Intelligence Agency forced its editor, Sheriff Bojang, to halt production. But the president largely lashed out at the Gambian private press and critics of his repressive media policies in the meeting, a tense session that was broadcast on state television. Jammeh, a former army captain who seized power in a 1994 coup, spoke in a harsh and contemptuous tone as he addressed media owners invited to the State House in the capital, Banjul.

To Read More, Click News on Top Left

President Jammeh Asked to Clarify Manneh’s ‘Death’


The Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ), an international media advocacy group based in the US has called on The Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh to fully disclose his knowledge of the missing Gambian journalist’s fate.
Chief Ebrima Manneh, a senior reporter of pro-government Daily Observer newspaper disappeared since 2007 and his whereabouts remain unknown to his colleagues and family.
He was allegedly arrested by plain cloth national security agents in his office on July 7, 2007. However, The Gambia government had denied knowledge of Chief Manneh’s whereabouts.
But in a rare dialogue with The Gambian media chiefs recently, President Yahya Jammeh was quoted as saying that Chief Ebrima Manneh may have died.

To Read More, Click News on Top Left

Kudos to Fatou Camara for Jammeh-Media forum, but….

Kudos to Fatou Camara, the newly appointed Director of Press and Public Relations at State House for achieving within a week of her appointment what all those before her failed to achieve, which is to bring together President Jammeh and journalists of the private media under one roof to discuss pertinent issues.
While it may be too early in the day to guess whether the timing of the meeting was prompted by current events in North Africa or it was a genuine attempt on the part of the regime to dialogue with such an important segment of the society, but Fatou still deserves some commendation for no doubt being instrumental to bringing it about.

To Read More, Click News on Top Left

Veteran Journalist Takes ‘the Bull by the Horn’

The oldest practicing Gambian journalist Mr Swaebou Conateh on Wednesday took the bull by its horn demanded president Jammeh’s government to implement certain programmes in order to make more satisfactory and systematic progress on what, he said, is now a vexed question.
Mr Conateh , publisher/editor of The Gambia News & Report weekly magazine who make made this remark on Wednesdya during a meeting with the president said  his demands are already in existence in most countries.

To Read More, Click News on Top Left

Anti-Media Laws Are Still a Thorn in the Flesh of Journalists

“I would first of all like to thank you very much for inviting us to know what exactly our concerns are. This to my view is long overdue as we have over the years called for better relations between government and the media especially the independent press.
We know this has not been so for more than a decade, despite repeated overtures from the press.
Your Excellency, the latest such attempt was the New Year messages by media chiefs published on our paper, in which we expressed among others, the need to build good links between State House and the independent press.

To Read More, Click News on Top Left

Gambian Journalists Make Demands

A rare dialogue between the government and the independent media that seeks to smooth out the bitter relations between the two witnessed renewed calls by journalists for government to make legal and policy reforms inorder to allow an unimpeded access and free flow of information.
Held on Wednesday at Statehouse, the meeting was described by both the media and government officials as a significant move towards settling the differences.
“I would not wish to rekindle the fire of the old wounds,” said Mr Swaebou Conateh, the editor/publisher of The Gambia News & Report weekly magazine, referring to the detentions, prosecutions, attacks and the mysterious killing of Deyda Hydara, founder of The Point newspaper and disappearance of journalist Ebrima Manneh of Daily Observer. 
Conateh added: “However, it is not too late to adjust or re-adjust the position, so that the Gambia can, among its many achievements under the Jammeh administration, boast of having the most free press in Africa, if not in the whole world.
Being the oldest practicing journalist in the country, Swaebou said: “I therefore propose to take the bull by the horns to ask for certain programmes of the government to be carried out in order to make more satisfactory and systematic progress on what is now a vexed question.”
Conateh calls for the decriminalizing of speech since one is in contravention with the universal principles as the free flow of information is necessary for human understanding cooperation and developments.
“Our laws on sedition publication our libel laws and false publication laws are either archaic or out of step with the information age and should be repealed or revealed” saying that other countries have done this.
Swaebou also called on the government to have an open door policy, recommending for the president, interior and foreign ministries to hold regular press briefing to entertain questions from media on offices they hold to clarify it to the public.
“I know you are capable of doing it,” Conateh told the president, “But there is some reluctance on your part which makes us to have doubts about your intentions.”
Mr Pap Saine, Managing Director and co-publisher of The Point newspaper emphasized the need for the independent press to access to government news in order to effectively execute its constitutional mandate to disseminate information about the activities of the government for the benefit of the public.
“We want to make our position very clear that we are not an enemy to the state,” said Mr Saine, whose friend Deyda Hydara was gunned-down by unknown assailants since 2004. “The journalist does not see himself or herself in that role. We are neither backers of nor the opposition. Our job requires us to report on both the pleasant and the sordid aspects of society.”
According to Sam Sarr, Editor of Foroyaa newspaper, governments have to be kept on their toes in order to assist them to become more effective, and also to preempt wrong doings and errors that may be created in the process of governance.
Mr Sarr highlighted that rather than government cooperating to bring about justice to the case of Deyda and others, there is uneasiness on the part of the executive whenever such cases are mentioned.
According to him, the government is taking pride in allowing the large number of radio stations, but the fundamental question that should be asked is where they are allowed to broadcast local news.
“There must be an alternative broadcast,” said Sam Sarr, who was among the six journalists jailed last year after found guilty sedition and defamation, but release after two months following presidential pardon.
“There must be divergent views and dissenting opinion,” he added.  
For Abdul Adiamoh, publisher of Today Newspaper, The Gambia is a very beautiful country, but the Gambian media is denied to portray the image of the country.
Adiamoh said he is a Nigerian, but he considers himself as a Gambian. He told the president that throughout his extended stay in the country, he has not seen a single Gambian journalist locally who is set out to vilify the country.

I will not sacrifice Gambia’s security at the alter of freedom of expression Says President Jammeh

The president of the Republic has made a heavy-worded statement making clear of his position that he will not under his watchful eyes sacrifice The Gambia’s peace, stability and security “at the alter of freedom of expression”.

His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh was speaking Wednesday evening at State House in Banjul during a lengthy meeting he held with members of the fourth estate [the media]. The rare meeting that had in attendance cabinet ministers including the vice president and minister of Women’s Affairs, brought together media chiefs and senior journalists in the country; and was meant among other things to strengthen and improve on the existing relationship between the government and the media fraternity.
Described as a major boost in government-media relationship, the rare meeting at the presidency accorded President Jammeh and his government the opportunity to make their positions very clear with regards to the issue. It also provided the country’s media practitioners the opportunity to relay their concerns, recommendations, as well as the challenges confronting them.

The Gambian leader emphasised that he is here for the peace and stability of the country so that everyone would enjoy life; everyone would realise their dreams; everyone would have a chance to pray to the Almighty Allah; and to ensuring that those going to school can go to school in peace; those teaching can teach in peace and those writing can write in peace. However, he reminded the fourth estate that this can only happen in a conducive environment that can only be provided by absolute peace and stability, thus stressing that all of them are responsible for the peace and stability of this country. “Also remember that when you set a fire; all you know is to set the fire but where it is going to end you don’t know,” he stated.

To this end, the president pointed out that he had  sworn to uphold the constitution and the laws of The Gambia; to defend the interest of this country, something he stressed he is ready to pay any price for. While noting that his government’s role is to make this country better, the Gambian leader averred that he is not hostile to any one of the members of the media fraternity, and that he has no hatred for them. However, he maintained that he will not compromise national security, thus urging for responsibility. “Let me make one thing very clear – my heart is a very small heart; it does not have enough space to accommodate hatred. My heart is full with the love for humanity and the love for this country. I am a Muslim and I am not a pretending Muslim but a practising real Muslim. Any human being whatever your position is, if you think that you’re so high, that you can do anything to humanity, you are making a great mistake,” he stated. He added: “So what would I gain by harassing the press? I have always made it very clear from 1994 to date; that whatever I do, write it, but if you write what I didn’t do I will deal with you even if the sky is to explode. You will have to tell me where I did it, if not we will have to go to court. It is not because I am the president that I can trample on anybody’s right, no! but also because you are a journalist doesn’t also mean that you can write whatever you want to write knowing that it is not true.”

No law for public servants not to talk to the press
Dispelling the widely held belief that the public officials in his government are not supposed to talk to the press, the Gambian leader made it clear that his government has never put in any law preventing them [public officials] from talking to the press as portrayed. He recalled: “When we came from Mecca, I got that same comment that people are complaining that they are not enlightened; that they never have access to information -  public officials are tight-lipped, giving the impression there is a ban.”  He added: “My government has no law that public officials are not supposed to talk to the press. There is no law that prevents public officials from talking to the press. I want to be very very clear. “When you ask anybody [the public officials] and they tell you we are not supposed to talk, ask that person to put it into writing and sign it and ask the person who does not allow you to talk to the press.”
The Gambian leader made it clear that as president, he does not expect everyone to like him. “If I also expect all of you to like me, then I am making a great mistake. Any individual, even the dead body has enemies – some would say good things about it and others will say a bad thing about it. I know that there is nothing in this world that will prevent me from answering to the Almighty Allah and He will judge me for what I do. That is why I am very careful. The image given to The Gambia is that it is a dangerous country for journalists to live. Well, as far as I am concerned that will not give me grey hairs,” he stated. The president reminded the journalists that when his government came in, they used to have briefings with the press, but stressed that this was discontinued due to misrepresentation.  
 “ When we say this thing, instead of writing exactly what we said, you decided to say what I didn’t say as if you are Yahya Jammeh. You want to say Yahya Jammeh wanted to say this but he didn’t say it or Yahya Jammeh said this but this was exactly what he wanted to say. You say what is in my mind,” he stated. “So if you want information, and you talk to the person who you want information from; and the person say oh, we are not allowed to give information; ask the person who did not allow you to give information. But don’t go and generalise that Yahya Jammeh’s government does not even allow public officials to talk.” The Gambian leader stressed that he is “a dictator of development; a dictator of peace and stability; and a dictator of service to humanity and nothing else.” He stressed that he is not here to enrich himself but to make sure that Africans who he said are today synonymous with poverty and backwardness, would one day walk with their heads and shoulders high as they did before the coming of the white man.
“Interestingly, those people who are tutors of freedom of expression are the same people [in whose country] you can insult the Prophet (SAW) and get away with it because of freedom of expression and you go to jail for denying the holocaust. Something is wrong with us the Africans,” he lamented. President Jammeh also pointed out that the proliferation of media outlets both in print and electronic goes to vindicate his government in terms of press freedom, noting that this was not happening then. He then pointed out that if his government doesn’t want the press, it won’t have allowed operation of these outlets given the fact that it is the government that issued a licence and hence none of them could have operated without a licence.
Speaking earlier, the vice president and minister of Women’s Affairs, Her Excellency Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy harped on the positive developments that have taken place from 1994 to date in terms of good governance, democracy and human rights. She noted that democratic institutions have been put in place by the current government such as the National Council for Civic Education and the Independent Electoral Commission; institutions she added were not here before the advent of this government. She said: “Let all Gambians realise that we have nothing except the country and let us not take the peace and stability of the country for granted.” Dr Njie-Saidy urged the journalists to act responsibly and think through what they are reporting.
The secretary general and head of the Civil Service, Dr Njogu Bah told the media practitioners to ensure responsibility in the discharge of their duties; one that will be accompanied with ethics. SG Bah deplored the lack of responsibility in the media, underscoring that responsibility is important in whatever one does. “Nobody is saying don’t write anything negative about what government does, but constructive criticism is what we are asking for,” he stated, while stressing the need for genuine partnership between the government and the press.  The Civil Service boss concluded by urging journalists to make sure that they report accurately. The ministers of Information and Communication Infrastructure, Finance and Economic Affairs, and Health and Social Welfare, Alagie Cham, Mambury Njie and Fatim Badjie respectively, all took turns to express the need for responsible journalism, one that will not jeopardise the peace and stability of the country.

Media chiefs
The media chiefs who took turns to relay their concern spoke on a wide range of issues affecting the media, ranging from lack of information from public officials, to capacity building and the call made by them for repeal in the current media legislations. The media chiefs, while lauding the forum at the presidency, expressed hope for a new beginning between government and the press.

Suwaubou Conateh, veteran Gambian journalist and publisher of the News and Report Magazine, recommended that the government provide a platform for regular press briefings, especially at the Office of the President, as well as the ministries of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, and the Interior respectively. He also recommended repealing of certain media laws in the country.
Pap Saine, the managing director of The Point Newspaper underscored the importance of having access to government news to enable journalists effectively contribute their quota to the dissemination of information about what the government is doing and saying, for the benefit of the general public. While emphasising that the media is not an enemy to the government, The Point boss and Reuters Dean of Correspondents underscored the need for the institutionalisation of training of media personnel, particularly to diploma level at the University of The Gambia. This, he argued, will enhance quality of output and strengthen professionalism. Sam Sarr, managing editor of Foroyaa Newspaper and Abdul Adiamoh, publisher of Today Newspaper all expressed similar sentiments.
Fatou Camara, director of press and communication, Office of the President, co-chaired the ceremony.

Author: by Hatab Fadera

Jammeh Slams Journalists’ Demands ‘Ridiculous’

Gambian president Yahya Jammeh has slammed as ridiculous the demands made by Gambian journalists for the decriminalisation of anti media free laws and subvention ofto media outlets.

“Some of you [journalists] have made ridiculous demands that cannot be met. Tell me one country where there is no libel law and where government subvents the media?” Jammeh told the Gambian media chiefs and their editors at Statehouse on Wednesday.

The uncommon gathering between the government and the independent media was made possible thanks to the efforts of the newly appointed Director of Press and Public Relations, Fatou Camara.

The government-media relationship has been tense for over a decade. The government boasts of creating an enabling environment giving rise to proliferation of media outlets. However, the media practitioners decry lack of liberty in the face of ‘unwarranted arrest, detention, intimidation, lack of access to official information and laws that impede on freedom of speech.

The unsettled murder of veteran journalist Deyda Hydara and the mysterious missing of journalist Ebrima Manneh, as Sam Sarr of Foroyaa told the president and his cabinet, trigger uneasiness on the part of the executive. 

And the meeting witnessed renewed calls made by media chiefs for government to address these issues for any progress to be made, but their demands were met with yet an objection by the president.

However, both parties expressed satisfaction with the initiative and hope it could be the beginning of a new chapter in government-media relations with promises of follow-up meetings all, but geared towards smoothening the rough edges. 

Author: Saikou Jammeh

And Jammeh, Ministers Respond

The Gambian journalists on Wednesday revealed to President Jammeh, among others, a culture of refusal on the part of public officials to divulge information to the media. However, Jammeh said there is no law or policy barring public officials in his government from talking to the press.
“When we came from Mecca, I got that same comment that people are complaining that they are not enlightened; that they never have access to information -  public officials are tight-lipped, giving the impression there is a ban,” Jammeh said on Wednesday during a rare meeting with the independent press at Statehouse. 
“My government has no law that public officials are not supposed to talk to the press,” Jammeh said,  warning journalist from making a general comment that Yahya Jammeh’s government does not even allow public officials to talk.
“When you ask anybody [the public officials] and they tell you we are not supposed to talk, ask those people to put it into writing and sign it and ask the person who does not allow you to talk to the press.”
President Jammeh however vowed that he would not compromise national security, the peace and stability in the country at the altar of freedom of expression.
“The peace and stability of this country, I will never compromise,” Jammeh vowed. “I always make it very clear, from 1994 to date, that whatever I do, write it, but if you write what I didn’t do, I will deal with you, and I will deal with you whether the West or the East likes it or not, even if the sky is going to explode.”
“Because am the President doesn’t mean that I can trample on anybody’s rights or go about beating up people. No, but also because you are a journalist does not mean that you can write whatever you want to write, knowing that it is not true,” he stated.
On the death of Deyda Hydara, Jammeh said his government has nothing to do with it and there is nothing his government could do about it. He said he has many people on a death row since 1996, but did not execute any one. “Why would I kill a journalist then,” Jammeh said.
According to the Gambian leader, the delegation he sent to the funeral of Deyda was greeted with hostility saying that he even regretted why he sent them.
On the demands for regular press briefings, Jammeh said he used to do it when he took over but had to stop it because his message is distorted and some journalists represent opposition parties.
Regarding the need to repeal anti media free laws, Jammeh there must be such laws for him and Gambian people to seek redress whenever they feel offended by the journalists.
He said the demands for decriminalization of sedition, subvention for media outlets cannot be met.
He said if the media had accepted the setting up of the Media Commission he would not have the cause to resort to courts, but rather he will seek redress at the commission.  
 “Let me make one thing very clear – my heart is a very small heart; it does not have enough space to accommodate hatred. My heart is full with the love for humanity and the love for this country,” Jammeh said.
He then pointed out that if his government doesn’t want the press, it won’t have allowed operation of these outlets given the fact that it is the government that issued a license and hence none of them could have operated without a license.
Also speaking, the vice president and minister of Women’s Affairs, Isatou Njie-Saidy urged on the media to recognise the positive developments registered by Jammeh administration even areas of good governance, democracy and human rights.
 “Let all Gambians realise that we have nothing except the country and let us not take the peace and stability of the country for granted.” Dr Njie-Saidy urged the journalists to be responsible journalists.
The secretary general and head of the Civil Service, Dr Njogu Bah told the media practitioners to ensure responsibility in the discharge of their duties; one that will be accompanied with ethics.
Bah said the problem between government and the media is the lack of responsibility in the media.
“Nobody is saying don’t write anything negative about what government does, but constructive criticism is what we are asking for,” he noted.
However, The Gambian minister for Health and Social Welfare Fatim Badjie implored on both the government and private bodies to open up to the media, saying that the media must ‘trigger thought’ as it carries both a sweet and sour tongue.
“There is a general culture of people shutting the door at the media,” the youngest minister who was appointed minister in 2009 at age 24 as communications minister admitted.  
Fatim said information on the progress and challenges are being highlighted and that the independent press has been covering their ministries’ events. She believes that the media has a steady potential for growth. 

Taranga FM Goes Off Air Following Suspected NIA Order

In what is highly suspected to be an order from the National Intelligence Agency, Taranga FM, a privately-owned community radio station has temporarily closed-down operations.
Mr Ismaila Sisay, the proprietor of the radio is unavailable for comments at the time of going to press. However, a reliable source said Mr Sisay yesterday spent a couple of hours at NIA headquarters in Banjul for questioning.
In this media-freedom restricted country, Taranga is the only private radio station that broadcast local news – both in English and local languages - to its audience, something the public seemingly appreciate.
The radio’s regular news programme of reading news published in the local newspapers has attracted growing interest from the public as it serve as the alternative source of news to the state-owned radio, especially for The Gambia’s majority conventionally unlettered people.
The Daily News is yet to confirm the reason/s for the alleged NIA closure order, but it is believed to be in connection with the radio’s news programme.
Meanwhile, since Taranga started the news programme couple of months ago, there was mounting speculation about the authorities unhappiness about the programme. Its closure may not come as a surprise to many; for Citizen FM that undertook similar programme has been closed-down.

Source: Daily News

ECOWAS Court Restores My Dignity!

By Musa Saidykhan

I am grateful to God for sparing my life to witness what I have been longing to see for years - the restoration of my human dignity by a panel of judges at the ECOWAS Community Court in Abuja, Nigeria. My illegal arrest and detention and subsequent inhumane tortures were purposely meant to seize my dignity.

Unfortunately, the people who led my torture sessions had long since joined their ancestors. Musa Jammeh and Tumbul Tamba would have been buried in shame or received heavy punches from their master fond of exonerating himself from blame when things go wrong.

One may wonder why I was not so quick to react to this much-awaited landmark court. The fact is that I received the news with mixed feelings - it was like being blown with hot and cold air at the same time.

I would have been much happier had Deyda Hydara's killers been brought to justice and punished for their heinous crime, or if the government comes public with what had happened to Chief Ebrima Manneh whose whereabouts remain mysterious, despite being arrested and detained by the very government whose leadership swore to protect him.
I was definitely delighted that after years of denial, vigorous defense aimed at covering the truth, the court has proven The Gambia government guilty of illegal arrest, detention and torture.

This is the kind of justice I will be denied outright in The Gambia where the judiciary has lost its credentials of being the last bastion of hope. Our judicial justice has been so rotten that majority of victimized Gambians prefer to cry in silence rather than seek legal redress. What a mockery to democracy, rule of law and justice delivery system!

The trial was long, tiring, time-consuming and expensive but my determination to play my little part to correct injustice and defend the rights of would-be victims kept me riding, which was why I did not budge even a second throughout the trial. And as a journalist, I would have committed a grave crime for not seeking legal redress against violations of my God-given rights, something I had been advocating for throughout my entire career.

It was not easy shuttling back and forth to Nigeria where I had frictions with immigration officials at the Nmadi Azikwe International Airport for not securing a visa. I defended that as an ECOWAS citizen, I did not need a visa to Nigeria as long as I am not staying beyond 90 days, which was understood by immigration officials.

But they insisted that as a bearer of United States Travel Document, I needed a visa but I remained adamant. In all cases, I had to be bailed me out, and given only a week to stay in Abuja with threats that "you will be smoked out" had I extended my stay. I was prepared to bear these challenges on my road to justice.

I am delighted that this long, tedious and rocky journey to justice has finally come to an end with such a resounding victory, an obvious significant factor in our quest to establish a society free of all forms of human rights violations. This is a victory for democracy, rule of law, press freedom and justice. I therefore dedicate this victory to my fallen colleagues and human rights defenders denied justice all over the world.

I hope The Gambia government will admit their fault and correct its rotten human rights credentials so as to avoid embarassing legal confrontations over human rights violations in future. I am eagerly waiting to see whether the Jammeh government will swallow its pride and honour the court's verdict. I am grateful to my family, the Media Foundation for West Africa, Falana Falana Chambers, Dr. Dialo Diop of Senegal, all the insitutions and individuals for their undivided support and solidarity throughout the trial.

Deyda Hydara, a friend and colleague murdered in impunity

By Demba Jawo/CPJ Guest Blogger

I can still vividly recall how the news of Deyda Hydara's killing was relayed to me on the morning of December 17, 2004, after I returned from a trip to Zambia the previous night. Very early that morning, I called his childhood friend and partner at The Point, Pap Saine, who told me: "They shot him dead last night." I had to pinch myself to realize that I was not actually dreaming.

My first encounter with Deyda was in 1979 when, as a junior reporter for The Nation newspaper (published by the late William Dixon-Colley), I was arrested and detained by the police for a commentary I wrote about corruption in the police force. Deyda frequently visited me at the police station and gave me the encouragement I needed to survive the ordeal. As the then-manager of the first private commercial radio station in Africa, Radio Syd, and vice chairman of the Gambia Press Union (GPU), he not only fully supported me in my journalism career but also encouraged me to apply to be a union member. After that, he became my friend and confidante. Even when I took over as president of the GPU from him in 1998, he continued to give me invaluable counseling and advice.

Deyda was quite courageous and very passionate about defending press freedom in the Gambia, and he would go to any length to express his views on it in his popular "The Bite" column in The Point. Deyda was not only a journalist, but a human rights activist and a philanthropist who participated in various humanitarian causes, including raising funds for the mental wing of the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital in Banjul. He was also quite a sociable person who had many friends across the social strata.

Since Deyda's murder, Gambian authorities have not shown genuine interest in investigating his murder, leading the GPU to call for external investigators. We have watched as the Gambian government invited British investigators to help investigate certain crimes--the latest being the large haul of drugs recently uncovered in the country. We are convinced that if the same dedication had been shown to Deyda's case, it could have been resolved long ago.

Nevertheless, while the Gambian authorities have woefully failed in their duties to bring the justice to Deyda's case, his family, friends and colleagues are consoled by the overwhelming support and interest that his murder continues to generate, both at home and abroad. Since 2004, Deyda has received so many international awards and accolades, the latest being the "Hero of African Journalism Award" by the African Editors' Forum, of which he was a founding member.

Rather than continuing to treat this case as a non-event, Gambian authorities should assume their responsibility of investigating who killed Deyda and why. That is what all decent Gambians and the international community expect of them, and nothing less.

JUDGMENT OF ECOWAS COURT ON MUSA SAIDYKHAN

As indicated in our last edition, we indicated that judgment on Saidykhan’s case alleging unlawful arrest and detention and torture was entered in his favour on 16 December 2010 at Abuja. In the judgment the court declared that the arrest of Saidykhan is illegal and unconstitutional, his detention for 22 days without trial is illegal and the torture inflicted on him is illegal. Saidykhan was awarded damages amounting to $200,000 to be paid by the Gambia Government. He is also entitled to costs to be borne by the government.
We produce below, a full text of the judgment.
<ins>
</ins>IN THE COMMUNITY COURT OF JUSTICE, ECOWAS, HELD IN ABUJA (FCT), FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

SUIT NO. ECW/CCJ/APP/11/07
JUDGMENT NO. ECW/CCJ/JUD/ 08/10

MUSA SAIDYKIIAN ………….PLAINTIFF
V.
REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA.....DEFENDANT

BEFORE:
1. HON. JUSTICE HANSINE N. DONLI ……….PRESIDING
2. HON. JUSTICE AWA NANA DABOYA..........MEMBER
3. HON. JUSTICE ANTHONY A. BENIN ……...MEMBER

ASSISTED BY TONY ANENE-MAIDOH………CHIEF REGISTRAR

DATED 16TH DECEMBER 2010


COUNSEL:
Sola Egbeyinka for the Plaintiff
Martins U. Okoi for the Defendant

1

JUDGMENT OF THE COURT
Parties
I
. The plaintiff is a journalist by profession and a national of the Republic of The Gambia and sues his own country which is a member state of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The Plaintiff’s Case
2.
By application filed with this court on 19th November 2007, the plaintiff complained of violation of his human right to personal liberty, dignity of his person and fair hearing guaranteed by Articles 1, 5, 6 and 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR). From the narration of the facts, the plaintiff was the Editor of The Independent newspaper based in Banjul, The Gambia. According to the plaintiff, his newspaper published the names of alleged coup plotters on 21st March 2006. Six days later, to be precise on 27th March 2006, he was arrested at night by a combined team of armed soldiers and policemen, without a warrant of arrest. They took him to a detention centre in the headquarters of the National Intelligence Agency in Banjul. For the next twenty-two (22) days, the plaintiff claimed he was held totally incommunicado.

3. The facts continue that during those three weeks the plaintiff was not allowed to take a bath, put on shoes or change his clothes, he was stripped naked whilst electric shocks were administered to his body, all in effort to extract a confession from him of his involvement in the coup plot. Among those who tortured him were officials of the Presidential Bodyguards including the President’s cousin Lt. Musa Jammeh and RSM Tamba.

4. The plaintiff further averred that during the interrogations he was accused of being disloyal to the government because he had invited President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa to pressurize the government of The Gambia to expedite investigations into the brutal killing of one Deyda Hydara, a newspaper editor, and attacks on newspaper houses. He was also accused of embarrassing the government by writing stories about the mysterious killings of over forty ECOWAS nationals by the Gambian security forces in 2005.

5. The plaintiff claimed that he suffered injuries on his back, legs, arms and a bayonet cut on his left jaw. He also suffered mental and psychological torture.

6. He was released on bail, yet the security officers continued to put him under surveillance and this put his wife, aged mother and junior brothers to fright. The situation became unbearable so he and his wife decided to flee the country for security reasons. Therefore on the night of 13th May 2006 they fled the country and arrived in Dakar, Senegal on 15th May 2006. However, the defendant has continued to harass and intimidate his family members in Banjul, especially his brother who stood surety for his bail. He stated that it was in Dakar that he received medical attention at the expense of Amnesty International.
Pleas in law

7. The plaintiff stated in his application that he would rely on Article 4 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty. He also stated that he would rely on Articles 1, 2, 5, 6, 7 (b) and (d) of the ACHPR. These enactments will be referred to as and when appropriate in this judgment.

Reliefs and Orders sought
8
. The plaintiff sought the following reliefs and orders from the court:
a. A declaration that the arrest of the plaintiff in Banjul, The Gambia on March 27, 2006 by the armed agents of the defendant is illegal and unconstitutional as it contravenes the plaintiff’s human right to personal liberty as guaranteed by Article 6 of the ACHPR.
b. A declaration that the detention of the plaintiff by the defendant’s agents at the National Intelligence Agency detention centre for 22 days without trial is illegal as it violates the plaintiff’s right to personal liberty and fair hearing as guaranteed by Articles 6 and 7 of the ACHPR.
c. A declaration that the torture inflicted on the plaintiff by the defendant’s agents during his 22 days detention is illegal as it violates the plaintiffs right to personal dignity as guaranteed by Article 5 of the ACHPR,
d. An order restraining the Defendant from harassing or intimidating members of the plaintiffs family who are based in The Gambia in any manner whatsoever and howsoever.
e. US$2 million being compensation for the violation of the plaintiffs human rights to dignity, personal liberty and fair hearing.”
3
The Defence’s case
9
. The defence consisted largely of a complete denial of all the averments contained in the initiating application. The defendant denied any knowledge of the publication of the names of coup plotters and denied sending any security agents to arrest any journalists. The defendant further stated that they did not receive any reports of any arrests, detention or torture and put the plaintiff to strict proof.

10. The defence stated that Lt. Musa Jammeh and RSM Tamba are not identifiable persons. A person known as Col. Musa Jammeh is deceased. That the names Musa Jammeh and Tamba are very common names in the Gambian Armed Forces, with many persons bearing those names and with similar ranks.
11. In respect of the matter concerning President Thabo Mbeki, the defendant stated that this was a calculated and mischievous attempt to plant seed of discord and contempt between The Gambia and South Africa. The general traverse is sufficient to put the plaintiff to strict proof of all averments contained in the application.

12. The defence also delved into arguments which should not be engaged in during pleadings; the arguments will be considered during the analysis of the case. The court reiterates that the pleadings should be confined to a concise and precise presentation of facts and brief summary of evidence in support including references to documents. All arguments shall be reserved for the oral phase of the proceedings. Reference is hereby made to Articles 33 and 35 of the Court’s Rules of Procedure.

Oral Procedure
13
. The plaintiff (PW1) gave oral testimony and called a medical doctor (PW2) to give expert evidence. They put in some documents, including medical certificates to buttress the plaintiff’s case. The defendant did not proffer any evidence. Instead they tried to put across their case during the cross examination of the plaintiff and his witness, whilst at the same time trying to punch holes in the plaintiff’s case and attack his credibility. Let us now examine the evidence.

14. At the hearing on the 3rd June 2010, the plaintiff gave evidence by himself and called one expert witness. The plaintiff stated that he was at home in Banjul, The Gambia on the 27th day of March 2006 when security operatives and police officers invaded his home around midnight and arrested him. He indicated that he was first taken to the National Intelligence Agency Headquarters in Banjul and subsequently to different detention centres.

15. Plaintiff posited that he was interrogated by the Director of National Intelligence Agency, Captain Saeed. Thereafter he was tortured around 2:00 am on the nights of 8th and 9th April 2006 by a group of soldiers, part of the President’s own bodyguards and led by Lieutenant Musa Jammeh and RSM Tumbo Thamba. Plaintiff made it known that he was stripped naked and beaten with sticks. Further, he was also dragged on the floor and electric shocks were administered on his body. He also intimated that his right hand was broken and was also threatened with death, the soldiers claiming that they had already killed and buried some suspects.

16. He went on to state that he was questioned as to the reasons for his arrest but he replied that he did not know. According to him, the soldiers then told him he was being tortured because he was a traitor and had tarnished the image of the country by telling the former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki that there were human rights violations in The Gambia, and in particular that the Gambian government was responsible for the killing of the Point Newspaper Editor, Deyda Hydara. He responded by telling the soldiers that he was not a traitor and all that he told Thabo Mbeki was that there were human rights violations in the country which were not being investigated by the Gambian government including two arson attacks on his newspaper and the killing of Deyda Hydara. Further, Plaintiff said he was told by the soldiers to assure them that he was going to stop practising journalism but he declined that request.

17. Plaintiff continued his testimony that about a week later the soldiers brought Lamin Laddy, a reporter of the Independent Newspaper and Madi Ceesay, the General Manager of the Independent Newspaper and himself together and tortured them. He stated that he was told that they have put the three of them together because their newspaper published a story about the failed coup attempt on 21st March 2006; that the story contained a lot of errors and was not factual. He went on to say that this time electric shocks were administered on his whole body, including his genitals until he became unconscious and went into a coma for about thirty minutes.

18. The plaintiff’s evidence continued that he was later released on bail after his brother had tendered in his passport as a surety. He stated that he was informed that a decision had been taken at a meeting held at the National Intelligence Agency to incarcerate him soon after the African Union Summit, which was to be held in July 2006. Plaintiff said that he was released because President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa had made his release a condition precedent to his attending the African Union Summit and the subsequent payment of a sum of money to The Gambia. Plaintiff further stated that after coming into knowledge of the plan by the Gambian authorities to incarcerate him and the fact that security officials of the state with unidentified vehicles used to keep surveillance of his compound late into the night, he decided to flee the country with his pregnant wife. Accordingly he and his wife left The Gambia on the 13th of May 2006.

19. The evidence continued that the plaintiff escaped to Senegal where he was able to seek medical attention through the assistance of Amnesty International and subsequently a Medical Certificate was issued to him. He sought medical assistance in Senegal because whilst in The Gambia no medical practitioner was bold enough to examine him, let alone issue him a Medical Certificate. He subsequently sought and was granted political asylum in Senegal but was relocated to the United States of America in 2008 for security reasons as officers of the Gambian National Intelligence Agency in Dakar kept monitoring him. When he got to the United States of America, he also received some medical treatment.

20. Plaintiff identified photographs that were taken after his torture to confirm the injuries he sustained as a result of the torture. The photographs were tendered in evidence by counsel to the plaintiff. Counsel to the defendant stated that the pleadings of the plaintiff did not disclose this aspect of the evidence but nonetheless did not object to their admission and stated that he would deal with that in his written address. Copies of Medical Certificates issued to the plaintiff whilst he was in Senegal were also admitted in evidence without objection from learned counsel for the defendant. Documents to support the fact that the Plaintiff received medical attention in the United States of America were also admitted in evidence although learned counsel to the defendant intimated to the Court that he wanted to place it on record that these were new documents which were never brought to his knowledge before their introduction but he was going to deal with it in his address.

21. During cross-examination by learned counsel to the defendant, plaintiff told the Court that he spoke French though he preferred the cross-examination to be conducted in English. He also told the Court that the medical procedures he went through in the United States of America were carried out in 2008. Plaintiff refused to name the person(s) who informed him that there was a plan by the Gambian authorities to put him behind bars after the African Union Summit but stated that he had his sources within the National Intelligence Agency.

22. Plaintiff stated that he knew the vehicles patrolling his area at night were security vehicles because they were without number plates and other vehicles were generally not permitted to drive around without number plates especially at night. He also informed the Court that he has a problem with his manhood but refused to state categorically whether he was impotent or not. Plaintiff continued that he did not have a copy of the newspaper publication in respect of the alleged coup plotters, which plaintiff had said was one of the reasons for his arrest. He also said that he had a copy of the petition he sent to President Thabo Mbeki but not with him in Court. He further stated that he was beaten to a state of unconsciousness by the soldiers and he estimated that he was unconscious for thirty minutes. Finally, plaintiff stated that the security officials who arrested him were in uniforms except one; two of them were in police uniforms and four others in military uniforms.

23. The plaintiff’s only witness Dr. Jalojo Dior (PW2) is a Senegalese medical practitioner resident in Dakar, Senegal. He stated that he has been in medical practice for the past twenty-eight years. He continued that he received the plaintiff in his office at the hospital and examined him when he was referred to him by the Senegalese section of Amnesty International. According to him, the plaintiff narrated his whole story to him. He stated that he conducted a medical examination on him and the examination was in two parts: questioning and physical examination. He subsequently issued the plaintiff with a Medical Certificate. He referred him to a female dermatologist who subsequently referred him to another dermatologist, Professor Khan. He stated that though he did not treat the plaintiff personally, he observed his injuries and accordingly issued him with a Medical Certificate. PW2 identified the Medical Certificate he issued through his handwriting, his letter head and his signature. At the instance of the Court, PW2 read the Medical Certificate in French which was simultaneously interpreted in English to the Court. The Medical Certificate was tendered in evidence by plaintiff’s counsel.

24. During cross-examination by learned counsel for the defendant, PW2 stated that he did not know the time interval between when plaintiff left the detention camp and when they first met because he did not know when plaintiff left the camp but they met for the first time on 27th June 2006. He also told the Court that plaintiff was referred to him by telephone. PW2 also made it known that he does not know the number of times he met plaintiff after their first meeting but they met on several occasions as plaintiff often came by his office to tell him how his treatment was going and also brought prescriptions from time to time.

25. The witness further stated that the doctors he referred plaintiff to made some referrals to him in the form of prescriptions and also mentioned that the documents involved belonged to the plaintiff so he gave them to him. He looked at some documents placed at the disposal of the Court by the plaintiff and identified some as the prescriptions by Professor Khan.

26. Following a question from the court, PW2 stated that he did not reveal the identity of plaintiff to his colleague doctors as they were not members of Amnesty International. He continued that he would have had to disclose the identity of the plaintiff to the other doctors in order to secure another Medical Certificate but he declined to do that for security reasons. Finally, he said that he gave a copy of the Medical Certificate he issued to the plaintiff to Amnesty International and added that he did not report to Amnesty International as an employee as the relationship between them was not one of employer and employee.


TO BE CONTINUED: Source Foroyaa.gm

STATEMENT OF GPU PRESIDENT, NDEY TAPHA SOSSEH ON THE SIXTH (6TH) ANNIVERSARY OF THE ASSASSINATION OF DEYDA HYDARA

THURSDAY DECEMBER 16, 2010

Colleagues and friends of the media, we are once again gathered here at the TANGO Hall to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the murder of our colleague, mentor, friend and brother journalist Deyda Hydara.

Today the Gambia Press Union, with support from the Media Agenda has convened to not only honour the memory of Deyda Hydara but to also celebrate his life.

Some would be wondering why I say celebrate.  But Deyda’s is a life worth celebrating.  We should rejoice in the fact that Deyda Hydara will always be remembered as a courageous, steadfast and committed journalist - one who ascribed to the singular pursuit of truth, justice, transparency and accountability. He died a hero and a martyr to the cause of a free press for The Gambia.   

I remember having a conversation with Marie Pierre, Deyda Hydara’s daughter, sometime this year, when her father was being honoured by The African Editor’s Forum in Bamako, and in finding words to comfort her, I said: “Marie Pierre, think of it this way, there are millions of people who have lived lives longer than your father, and after their passing, are remembered by those only close to them.  Your father, Deyda Hydara, comes from a country of less than 2 million people, published a national newspaper, small in comparison to others outside The Gambia but is known in every country, by all media people all over the world.  He has been honoured and remembered by practically every aspect of international media fraternities and is used as an example of bravery and courage in our work.”

Obviously, when we think about the heinous way in which he was murdered, we are sad and our spirits dampened but I find solace in the fact that the intentions of those who brutally murdered Deyda Hydara have failed miserably in their evil design to silence the voice of truth.  Their criminal act has in fact turned his voice into a universal voice of truth and a universal voice of condemnation of evil and injustice.

This however does not in any way stop us the media fraternity from denouncing the fact that the perpetrators of this heinous crime are yet to be brought to book.  And, to regrettably draw the attention of the State Authorities to the fact that unless and until the investigations are re-commenced with the intentions of tracing the perpetrators and of getting justice done, we will continue to register our stance against impunity without apology.  We will also use this and other uninvestigated attacks on media practitioners as a benchmark for the state of freedom of expression in The Gambia.

Today, in honouring the memory of Deyda Hydara, the Union has chosen to look at technological developments and its impact on newspaper journalism.  I do believe that Deyda Hydara, had he been around would have been pondering this and coming up with wonderful proposals to protect, reform and re-vitalize the newspaper industry. I do sincerely hope that those of us around today, will do him justice by not only reflecting and coming up with possible solutions but by also using today’s forum to exchange ideas on new ways and approaches that the Union and its partners can use to ensure that we engage the State Authorities to uphold their responsibilities in stepping up efforts into investigations of the murder of Deyda Hydara in particular and on all pending cases relating to the assaults on journalists and media houses.

I also call on the GPU membership, civil society groups and all Gambians of conscience who have joined us at the TANGO Hall, Kanifing to join the family of the late Deyda Hydara in prayer.

Deyda Hydara Deserves Justice Now!

For six solid years the assassin(s) of Deyda Hydara, the murdered Managing Editor of The Point newspaper is/are not known. Why? The assassin who drink from the jug of cowardice, have gunned down a hero of the voiceless and cruelly went into hiding.

It is that the authorities don’t want to investigate it or what is the problem? Deyda is a Gambian like any other Gambian and he has the rights like others to live and contribute to the socio -development of this country.

At this point in time what the old man needs is justice and nothing else. We will continue to chant this slogan until justice is done to him. It is sad to this date that the coward(s) who killed him under the covered of darkness is/are roaming the streets with impunity.

No matter how long it takes, one day justice will prevail and all those behind this heinous crime will dance to their own music. They have killed him, but today he is known world wide and respected by all who believes in democracy, rule of law, good governance and freedom of speech.

He died defending the press of this country, Africa and the world in general. That is why when the coward(s) gunned him down on the December 16, 2004, the whole world stood up and called on the government of The Gambia to investigate his murder for goodness sake. We are still waiting for that day when the authorities will find, arrest and prosecute the brutal killer(s) responsible for his death.

Last Thursday, colleagues in the media fraternity gathered at the TANGO hall to commemorate his sixth anniversary with renewed called on the government of The Gambia to find those who killed him. The Gambia is not an Island and therefore what is said and done here is heard and watched by outsiders. Deyda will live on and will continue to live on as long as the ink in our pens is not dry.

For the interest of justice, we are calling on the authorities to once again look into this matter and this time around arrest the killer(s) of Deyda Hydara and be brought to justice. Who killed Deyda? We want an answer. Period! We don’t care whose ox is grind all what we need is justice.

Justice delayed is justice denied. He is gone forever, but his work and his beautiful write ups will and will continue to guide us along the way till such a time that justice is done. Hey! The killer(s) you have achieved nothing by killing Deyda. You have turned this man into a martyr and an international icon whose name and legacy shall stay in this earth till dooms day for you see. So tell me what have you achieved? Nothing!

He is more than just a journalist but a father and at the same time a husband. He is someone who loved his work, a profession that he died for. Sometimes you sit and wonder where we are heading to, in a country where people can take guns and kill their fellow Gambian brothers and nothing comes out of it. This is madness of its highest order.

What we need in this country is love and not bullets.

We hope and pray that before the seventh anniversary of the assassination of Deyda Hydara, his killer(s) will be arrested, arraigned and face the Laws of The Gambia.

Journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh who is missing for four solid years now is no where to be seen or heard. We don’t know why? We cannot fully establish whether he is even alive or not.

The Independent newspaper’s printing press was burnt down and noting came out it despite the fact that names were mentioned. Time will tell. Several journalists were arrested and jailed for only speaking their minds in this country. When shall we respect freedom of the press, freedom of expression and allow journalists to do their work freely? God help us.

Long Live The Press, Long Live The Gambia.

Author: Lamin Njie

FACING THE CHALLENGE OF THE INTERNET: THE IMPACT OF THE INTERNET ON THE FUTURE OF THE NEWSPAPER

THE TEXT OF THE LECTURE GIVEN AT THE SIXTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ASSASSINATION OF DEYDA HYDARA AT TANGO HALL ON THURSDAY, 16 DECEMBER 2010

BY GEORGE CHRISTENSEN

When I was asked to give a talk on the subject my first reaction was how does the internet affect a country that basically has few newspapers with a few thousand circulation, and how does the Internet affect the man in Talinding  and his reading habits?

Well after some research and some soul searching here we find ourselves with my good self about to deliver the Deyda Hydara Memorial Lecture. My colleague before me has done a fine job on the life of Deyda. Thank you for the eloquent words on our fallen comarade.

As far as this lecture is concerned, my initial reactions have to put in the subject in the Gambian context. After all my presumption was that this was a talk in the Gambian context as I am not qualified to give a world view or even the Gambia for that matter. However, we are part of the global comity of nations and it is only a matter of time for the trickle down effects of global conditions reach us. Or has it arrived?

I would like to postulate that the challenge of the Internet for the newspaper industry is how to be proactive. In the light of this fast moving technology and be able to survive and provide a valuable service we must use the Internet  expediently and selectively. And by so doing not only do we keep our heads above the overwhelming tsunami of information but also plan our survival and become financially viable.

The Internet … what can we say about it that has not been said. I will not go into the history as that is not our topic for discussion. However I would like to say a few words about how the Internet has revolutionized the Newspaper Industry and go further still and say it has changed forever the face, pace and style of news gathering and dissemination.

The dominant factor in all of this is the Technology. And it is actually quite a revelation to go into a newsroom of a major newspaper and see how the internet has changed the way news in produced and packaged. Gone are the days of faxes and endless broken lines of telephone conversations. Instead its click and a new page is opened and down roll all the information to be processed and edited and used as seen fit by the editors.

A modern newsroom is practically paperless. This avoids waste duplication and lost copy. Efficiency is at its best as the page/story can be edited in a few clicks given a new face or angle. So it is a wonder why some of our papers haven’t mastered the art of cut and paste.

Or is it that because it Is from the Internet we have to take the story as Gospel? The internet is a powerful research too that is available 24/7 and its library is NEVER closed. The Librarian never goes home or is at Ngenteh. Yes it is the same for radio stations. The library is never locked as the music and all other data including adverts is loaded in the hard drive and accessible by authorized personnel at any given time. But I digress.

The Internet has made the process much cheaper as well as we don’t need to have paid correspondents that are kept on retainers and salaries with expensive offices etc, etc.

However not all that portends in the internet is of good to newspapers. We have seen the large number of newspapers that have closed all around the world recently. The global economic down turn has really taken its toll. The prohibitive cost of newsprint, the problems associated with importing newsprint and other consumables for the newspaper industry are all to common even here in the Gambia that media houses have to be dealt with on a regular basis. The high cost of bandwidth, computers and not to mention lack of competent, properly trained staff. The whole chain of production for our media houses is fraught with problems. We do not have a pool of trained readily available personnel we can call on. The newspaper industry at any given time is in crisis mode. And even more ominous is the introduction of pay per view news papers. NewsCorp that conglomerate of newspapers, TV stations and all over media vehicles –The Times of London and La Times are examples of this phenomenon. And when powerful interests like that start “selling” news for want of a better word where do we go from there here in Gambia and larger still in Africa?

Access to information is not a concept that was propagated at WSIS –Geneva 2003-2005. How do we as a society, Government, private media, and civil society ensure that we can always have information readily and freely? And I am not referring to the parochial sometimes petty minded or high handed ways we have seen some governments try to control the flow of information. Africa has been left back in the Information Society with a few notable exceptions Cape Verde and Rwanda coming to mind. How are we to make progress if the man in Tallinding is supposed to pay for information on the Internet when he does not hard a credit card? Even if there was a system of payment that is accessible, is news a commodity that should be paid for? We have always assumed that access to information is a human right and this right is not a commodity as much as Information is a Commodity now that we live in the Information Society - a value that is not to be paid or bought. Has there been a debate or are we too indifferent to initiate the debate on the value of Information? I contend that the debate has to take place as the Technology is leaving our value systems behind. It is taking place and if I might be so bold as to suggest that forums like this no matter how fledgling are actually contributing.

How do we garner our thoughts and move the debate forward?  Well for starters a proper audit of what avails, followed by short sharp remedial. You might ask who is to undertake this and on what basis. The GPU - Gambia Press Union - is sufficiently competent to initialize its membership. The Newspaper Industry in the Gambia is too small for a single entity to realistically undertake the task. And here lies the rub as with most Gambian institutions and organizations - organizational and political lethargy for want of a better phrase.

I don’t want to dwell on the historical perspective as even when we learn from history which we must, I don’t favour wallowing in the past. Let’s move on.

It is interesting that none of the newspapers in the Gambia have a radio Station. Why? With convergence, not only are they then able to reach a much wider audience, the news becomes more refreshed and current as well. I would have thought the media moguls would have seen that it is the way to gain wider access for their product rather than the translation of some pages by some radio stations and calling that news. Do they get credit for that exercise or is there some pro-bono payment scheme that exists? It seems so glaringly obvious to me that a merger between the print and electronic media is the way forward. In a country that has a majority of its population without access, either through being unlettered in the English language or because of physical inability to acquire newspapers because of shortage of print, this solution stares in the face.

What about other forms of Internet use and applications? It would be interesting to see if we could develop software Gambia specific and have our own version of Tweets. The use of WiFi is becoming more and more pervasive and a tweet service of the latest headlines would go down well. We see a local Cell company providing direct linkage to social sites, so the modalities should not be too hard to put in place. Revenue generation can be worked out to the benefit of all parties rather that the very static unimaginative adverts that we see splashed across our newspapers daily.

On the institutional side we have seen some interesting remarks in the newspapers from government on the Wiki Leaks Saga. Even though some of the signals are not blowing proper smoke rings if you pardon the expression, it should be interpreted as possible rapprochement. Jaw Jaw is better than war war. To the Donor Community, thanks for the support but it is time we were treated not as an agenda item. Bob Geldof said that how can you plug a gaping wound with plaster? Hence the name Band Aid. Sometimes I feel the same when I see “donors” trotting up to our respective media institutions, briefcase in hand, notebook on the other and the ubiquitous digital camera. We need more than a generator or 20 computers, or what ever is the item in vogue. Why have we still not got a Press House owned by the Media Houses and Journalists, on our land and built by us for posterity?

And this question is to all of us. Thank You  

6TH ANNIVERSARY OF DEYDA HYDARA’S ASSASSINATION TRIBUTE BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD OF FOROYAA

DEYDA IS STILL CALLING FOR JUSTICE TO BE DONE
16 December 2010 marks the 6th year since Deyda Hydara was assassinated. Since then Deyda has become a martyr in the cause of defending press freedom in the world. Posthumous awards have been given and are still being given to him. It would be a crime for journalists in his homeland to allow the anniversary of his death to pass without paying tribute to him and to demand for diligent investigation into his death so that the culprits are brought to justice.

<ins>Life is transient and time is eternal. The good or evil each individual does outlives the test of time. They are remembered as long as human beings continue to live on the face of the earth. Those who brought Deyda’s life to a tragic end and inflicted so much pain and suffering to his family and loved ones and all those who empathise with them will no longer be able to live with a clear conscience. Truth will continue to hunt them until they are hurled into the darkness of their graves. It is then that they would know that no man is vicious enough to escape death. No one is mighty enough to escape the humble return to the earth.</ins>

<ins>
We know your family is restless Deyda but we at Foroyaa will continue the battle to ensure that no one exercises the right to put a padlock on the mouths of the sovereign people and no one dares to terminate their lives with impunity. Let freedom of expression prevails! Let freedom of expression prevails!

The Editorial Board of Foroyaa</ins>

12/16/10

Six Years of Deyda Hydara’s Assassination Who Are the Killers?

By Baboucarr Ceesay

Six years on tomorrow, the killers of the murdered veteran Gambian journalist Deyda Hydara are still at large. Late Deyda Hydara, who co-founded The Point, a privately owned independent newspaper was shot dead by unknown gunmen on the night of December 16, 2004.

In a spot not-the-least-far from the main police station in the Kanifing municipality, the assassins attacked his vehicle as he drove home members of his staff, after a joyful thirteenth anniversary of his paper. Shots believed to be fired by a person on the passenger seat of the attackers’ vehicle slotted in his body – in the head and the chest - rendering him lifeless on the spot. Two of his staff, Nyansarang Jobe and Isatou Jagne on board Deyda’s vehicle were injured.   

The murder of Deyda is part of a series of coordinated callous attacks meted-out to The Gambia media and its practitioners.  The government of The Gambia’s seemingly inept investigations into his killing and many other atrocities ranging from the four-year missing of a senior journalist working at pro-government Daily Observer newspaper Chief Ebrima Manneh to the burning of Independent newspaper are yet to make any headway.

And in the case of Deyda, even a single suspect is yet to be tried before a court of law. Except President Jammeh’s speculation that he was probably murdered by a Senegalese whose lover Deyda was having an affair with.  

: “And up to now one of these stupid Web sites carries “Who Killed Deyda Hydara”?  Let them go [to the grave] and ask Deyda Hydara who killed him,” president Jammeh said, during an interview with the state-owned TV.

President Jammeh’s unpleasant remark invited the Gambia Press Union to react, issuing a press release to the effect, which was published on The Point and Foroyaa newspapers. The price paid for publishing GPU’s reaction was expensive as the editors of both newspapers and some executive members of the Gambia Press Union, popularly called ‘the six journalists’ were prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to a two-year imprisonment with fine. They were however released after spending 29 days in jail following a presidential pardon. 

Meanwhile as the cry for justice for the assassination of Deyda Hydara continues, he bagged international prestigious awards for having relentlessly struggled for freedom of expression and press freedom until his assassination at age 58.

He was honoured with a PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award and the African Editors Forum (TAEF) on October 14, 2010 also honoured him together with the disappeared journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh with the “Hero of African Journalism Award” in Bamako, Mali under the patronage of the Malian president Amadou Toumani Toure.

Deyda’s family, the national and  international media fraternity are still calling for justice to be done by wholeheartedly investigating his killing and the killers be brought to book.

A veteran journalist told this reporter that the greatest award for the work of Deyda as a man, journalist and a patriotic citizen is to bring his killers to justice. Describing Hydara as a great son of his country who was martyred by unidentified killers said to be in a numberless taxi, he said: “Deyda died the most untimely death. Imagine a father and a grandfather devoting his entire life to the longest battle for freedom in a country where the ugly head of impunity is growing bigger day by day.”

Let’s pray and strive in the cause of justice, “the cowards who assassinated Hydara will die many times,” he stressed. The Gambia Press Union in collaboration with Media Agenda will commemorate the 6th anniversary of his assassination with a public lecture on the topic “The impact of the internet on the future of the newspaper” at TANGO hall, Fajara M-section (Near the Independence Stadium on Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 4:30PM.

The family of the slain journalist and the management of The Point newspaper will also observe the occasion with the recitation of the holy Quran at his residence in Bakau Katchikally at 5PM.

Source: The Daily News

GPU, Others Visit Late Lamin A.Darboe’s Family

By Lamin Njie

Last Thursday, a delegation comprising    The Gambia Press Union (GPU), Sam Sarr Managing Editor of   Foroyaa Newspaper and Amadou Wuyeh Manga first vice president of the sports journalists association visited the family of the late Lamin A. Darboe, teacher cum sports journalist at Bakindick in Lower Niumi district,   North Bank Region.

The late Lamin A. Darboe who is said to be 33 years old drowned at the Barra Ferry Terminal on Saturday 20th November 2010  with his vehicle as he was being directed by a Gambia Ports Authority(GPA) staff to park his vehicle  for the second time.

His death body was recovered the following day, Sunday and was laid to rest on Monday 22nd November 2010 at the Old Jeshwang cemetery.

Receiving the delegation, Ba Ansu Darboe, father of the late Lamin Darboe expressed gratitude to the role played by the media fraternity of the country as  news of his son’s death spread like a wild fire across the length and breadth of The Gambia.

According to the old man, when he first heard the news, he could not believe it as his son was not complaining of any sickness or any other thing like that but was quick to add that it was Allah who gave them Lamin Darboe and it was the same Allah who took him away from them.

Ba- Ansu described his son as someone very respectful, hardworking, trustworthy, and obedient and above all a devout Muslim.

“If I want to say all his good characters here, we will be here the whole day. Lamin is someone who really loved his people and will go the extra mile to satisfy them,” he said.

He further said that his family will stand shoulder to shoulder with all the relevant authorities to see that justice is done in the interest of all.

The old man  who at one point  broke into tears together with some family members said if the Ports Authority had put in place  proper precautionary measures, the late Lamin A. Darboe’s incident would have been a different story today.

He spoke at length how the family will miss Lamin and the vacuum he left behind but quick to add again that Allah the creator and the merciful will be there for them.

Ba-Ansu finally prayed for the departed soul of Lamin and the souls of   all those who have departed to rest in perfect peace.

From the family house, the delegation proceeded to visit the six class room block constructed by Lamin and his white partner. The school taught children Arabic and English up to grade six.

Yaya Minteh, the head of the Arabic section described the demise of Lamin A. Darboe as a big lost not only to his family but to the entire country.

He recalled the days when Lamin and his partner first decided to sponsor the construction of the school at their village as a memorable one.

Minteh also expressed his gratitude to the media fraternity in the country for their   solidarity and maturity demonstrated towards the family of Lamin during these difficult moments.

Other village elders, who were present during our visit, expressed similar sentiments.

Banjul Ferry Terminal

We crossed with the Barra ferry and it took us one hour, fifteen minutes to anchor at Barra. From 12pm to 1:15pm. And I observed that the ferry had no barriers but chains welded both at the front and back of the ferry. The question now is how strong are those chains to prevent vehicles from tipping over? Why chains and how long should the chains  last.?

On our way back

At the Barra crossing point, we boarded the ‘Johe’ ferry and it took us one hour thirty minutes to reach Banjul. From 6:19pm to 7: 30 pm.

‘Johe’ is provided with barriers both at the front and back. But the same question is how strong are the barriers and how long can they last?

Infact shortly before ‘Johe’ anchored, it swung and a loud bang was heard. And I realised that one of the engines next to me went off for a while before it got started again.    It is not clear what went wrong. e disembarked safely from the ferry without our driver who was left stranded with our vehicle at the Barry terminal due to the long queue of vehicles waiting to cross.

Sam Sarr, managing  editor of  Foroyaa Newspaper  on behalf of the delegation later handed over a token of D2,500  to the family of the late Lamin A. Darboe.

Gambia News:Expression Making Slow Progress in West Africa Media Foundation

The media and journalists' rights organisation, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), has indicated in its a statement at the 48th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights that its thirteen years experience "have shown that progress in media development and promotion of the rights to free expression has been very slow."
The Commission is holding its 48th ordinary session in Banjul from 10 to 24 November, 2010.
The statement noted that, "Despite the adoption of constitutional democracy in the countries of the region, national legislation continues to be dominated by repressive media laws that criminalise speech and free expression. In recent years, the media environment in West Africa has witnessed the use of anti-free expression laws by state authorities, to gag the media and limit free expression. The MFWA will like to draw your attention to a few instances particularly in The Gambia, Ghana and Togo."
Regarding The Gambia, the statement noted that, "the state of the media and free expression in The Gambia requires urgent attention." It indicated that media practitioners have faced harassment, intimidation and persecution in the performance of their work. It pointed out that on countless occasions, criminal charges have been brought against journalists; that they have also detained for more than 72 hours without being taken to court contrary to section 19(3) of the Gambian Constitution. The statement added that in recent years a good number of journalists have been arrested and detained and some of them have been charged with false publication and criminal defamation, punishable on conviction by huge fines and terms of imprisonment. Among those convicted "is a Nigerian human rights defender, Edwin Nebolisa Nwakaeme, who has been sentenced to a mandatory six-month prison term with hard labour for giving false information to the office of President. He was also been ordered …. to pay a fine of 10, 000 Dalasi (about US$ 330) or in default, serve an extra three years imprisonment with hard labour. Nebolisa was also detained at the Serious Crime unit of the Gambian police force for eight days contrary to the 72 hours stipulated under the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia."
Of major concern also to the MFWA is the Gambian government's failure "to comply with the recommendations of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights Resolution 134 made at its 44th Ordinary session in November 2008 on the Gambia which among other things urged the Gambian government to provide access to all prisoners and bring an immediate end to harassment and intimidation of independent media institutions and respect the rights of journalists and human rights defenders."
The statement went further to state that the Gambian government has not given regard to the ECOWAS Court decision of June 5th 2008, which declared illegal, the arrest and detention of Chief Ebrima Manneh, a Daily Observer reporter, who was arrested in July, 2006. It added that the court also awarded US$100,000 as damages for the violation of Mr. Manneh's rights. "The arrest of Chief Manneh is a violation of Article 6 of the African charter on Human and peoples Rights' which provides that, "Every individual shall have the right to liberty and to the security of his person, no one may be deprived of his freedom except for reasons and conditions previously laid down by law. In particular, no one may be arbitrarily arrested or detained," the statement asserted. The MFWA concluded on The Gambia by calling on the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights "to take all the necessary measures to ensure that the Gambian government complies with its obligations under the African Charter."
Regarding Togo, the statement recalled how journalists were attacked and jailed when they report on issues of corruption. Although journalists have now been given the opportunity to state their cases in court, this has been overshadowed by the majority of the law suits that have been initiated by government. This year, President Faure Gnassingbé initiated five law suits against three newspapers charging them for "false publication" and "criminal defamation." The law suits have been withdrawn. Again, "Tribune d'Afrique" a privately-owned bi-monthly newspaper, was banned indefinitely and fined one million FCFA (about US$2000) for publishing "false news" against the president's brother, Mey Gnassingbé."
The statement goes on to say that "even in countries where press freedom and freedom of expression are much better respected and protected, repressive media laws are still being used and where terms of imprisonment have not been applied, exorbitant award of damages are used instead to cripple press freedom. In Ghana, two citizens, one of whom is a journalist, were charged to court for publishing false information contrary to section 208 of the Criminal Offences Act. Even though these cases have been discontinued, the MFWA is concerned that the continuous use of criminal law suits against journalists is capable of cowing the media, thereby leading to self censorship."
The statement drew the attention of the Commission to the fact that "Member States of the African Union are parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as well as the Declaration of principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa which promote the right to free expression." The statement then noted that, "the continued existence of laws such as Seditious Libel, Criminal Defamation, Publishing false news and Insult laws in the statute books of member states pose a major challenge to the promotion and protection of the right to free speech/ free media."
The MFWA therefore called on the Commission "to ensure that member states take all necessary steps to review their national laws in conformity with their obligations under the treaties."
After emphasising the importance of the right of access to information because it facilitates the implementation of other rights particularly economic, social and cultural rights, the statement observed that "in Africa, only four countries have an Access to Information Law. As at now, Liberia remains the first and only country in West Africa to have passed this law. Countries like Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone are still undergoing the processes to ensure the passage of the law but the processes have not been without huge challenges."
The statement concluded that: "The watchdog role of the media remains indispensable. The Media Foundation for West Africa urges the Commission to pay particular attention to the issues mentioned in this statement. While we commend Liberia for taking the bold step in passing a Right to Information Law, we wish to call on other African leaders to follow suit to enable citizens enjoy the provisions of the African charter, the African Freedom of Expression Declaration as well as the full benefits of the rights enshrined in their various national Constitutions.
Editor's Note:
Could someone tell us why the Standard News paper has ceased publication?

GAMBIA PRESS UNION

GAMBIA PRESS UNION 

NO. 5 GARBA JAHUMPA ROAD BAKAU NEWTOWN

P. O. Box 1440, Banjul

, The Gambia 

email: gpu@qanet.gm url: www.gambiapressunion.org

Sam Sarr

Editor

Foroyaa Newspaper

Dear Mr Sarr,

On behalf of the Executive and members of the Gambia Press Union (GPU), I write to offer our sincere condolences and deepest sympathy on the sudden passing away of Lamin A. Darboe, sports reporter at the Foroyaa Newspaper and member of the GPU.

Through you, we would also wish to extend our condolences to the family of the late Lamin.  May they find the strength and courage to get through their tragic loss in the unanimous outpour of grief and support at this most difficult period of mourning.  Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

Testimonies of colleagues and friends from Foroyaa and other media houses describe Lamin as a committed, dedicated and very enthusiastic sports journalist who was much loved and respected.  

The Union stands by Foroyaa and the family in their demand for a full enquiry into the events leading to the death of Lamin Darboe.

May his soul rest in peace. 

Ndey Tapha Sosseh

President

CC:  Darboe Family

Sainabou Kujabi, President, Sports Journalists Association

 

Journalist Lamin A. Darboe Laid To Rest

Lamin A. Darboe, the sports editor of the Foroyaa newspaper, who met his untimely death on Saturday 20 November, when his vehicle plunged into the sea after boarding the “Johe” ferry to cross from Barra to Banjul. The body was recovered near Bunadu on Sunday 21 November and was finally laid to rest on Monday 22 November, at the Old Jeshwang Muslim Cemetery shortly after two O’clock (Isha) prayers. His funeral service was done at the Independence Drive Mosque in Banjul.
The Foroyaa entourage, led by Halifa Sallah arrived at RVTH mortuary at around early in the morning. Halifa and the family members of the deceased went together to the police headquarters. at the serious crime unit. The Family members were left with the police to give their independent testimonies and indicate what they wanted. This reporter further gathered that they were given police escort to take some documents to the magistrate court to seek authorisation for conducting postmortem. A certificate was later signed by a magistrate at the Banjul Magistrates Court.
Post Mortem was conducted and the cause of death had been determined by the doctor and communicated to the family. It is death by drowning. The family members discussed and agreed that it was not necessary to take the body back to Bakindik.
Funeral rites were conducted at the Independence Drive Mosque and prayers led by his Koranic teacher at Bankindik village. At the funeral, journalist Darboe was branded by the brother who survived his father as a God fearing man who devoted all his entire life helping and assisting other fellow human beings The religious leader of the village also gave a sermon indicating how Darboe had brought Danish friends to build one of the biggest structures to promote education in their village. They claimed that he was sensitive to the needs of all villagers. The head of the Islamic school also expressed that thousands of children could fit into the building. He added that Lamin was the friend of the children and disadvantaged. He looked for assistance to cloth and feed the needy in his village. He was hailed as a hero for the needy in the entire Niumi area especially Bankindik village. They described his death as a big loss not only to his family and co-workers, but to the entirely country.
Mr. Pa Modou Faal of the Gambia Sports Journalists Association paid a tribute to him on behalf of the Sports Journalists of which he was the Treasurer. He expressed his piousness, honesty and trustworthiness which earned him the post of treasurer of their association.
Halifa Sallah, an adviser to Foroyaa Newspaper who spoke in the name of the Managing Editor, Mr Sam Sarr and on behalf the Foroyaa staff indicated that funeral ceremonies are school for human values. He said that if the family members were not required to hasten the process because of the need for them to cross with the ferry to return home many people would have shared their experiences to show how Lamin had enriched their lives. He intimated to the family members who praised him and the entire Foroyaa staff that those who go to funerals to look for gratitude or prestige are shortsighted. He indicated that despite any prestige earn each will one day live everything behind and be buried beneath the earth like any other human being. He said the grave does not recognise any status. He indicated that the purpose of appraising how Lamin had lived on this earth is to inspire the living to emulate the positive attributes of the dead and thus live lives worthy of narration. He said the number of people called by Lamin to attend the funeral in so short a time confirms that he was a person of substance. He indicated how Lamin never carried his weight on others, how he was an embodiment of humility and sociability.
He said that Lamin was a teacher and journalist. He told the people that Lamin was recently offered a post but he told the person concerned that he has plans to become a student of the University. He said Lamin has developed relation with outsiders in order to help others. He said his departure is a great loss but added that there is consolation in the realisation that to live a short life and be spoken well of is better than a long life and be described as a villain.
Imam Ceesay of the Independence Drive Mosque expressed delight in what has been said and asked the Imam of the village to lead prayers. The Imam passed the responsibility to another learned scholar from the village. That person eventually gave the responsibility to Lamin’s former Koranic teacher.
The body of journalist/ teacher Lamin A. Darboe was put on board the funeral van of the Banjul City Council (BCC) number 37 and was escorted by other vehicles to the Old Jeshwang Cemetery where he was finally laid to rest.
At around 15:15pm the remains of journalist Darboe were lowered into the grave for eternity amid a crowd of sympathizers, family members and colleagues. The burial was attended by executive members of sports journalists, the Executive members of the Gambia Press Union (GPU), a former President of the GPU, Mr Demba Jawo the entire Foroyaa staff led by Sam Sarr, Managing Editor, Managing Editors and reporters from the Point, Voice and Daily News and the entire media fraternity.
The late Lamin A. Darboe hails from Niumi Bakindik. He was not only a journalist, but a teacher and philanthropist. He is 33 years old and survived by a wife and three children.

 

By Fabakary B. Ceesay on 24-11-10 (262 reads) News by the same author

Journalist dies in Barra Ferry accident

Passengers plying the Barra-Banjul ferry could not contain their shock at seeing a middle-aged man die a sudden death, following what many described as an avoidable accident at the Barra ferry terminal.

Lamin Darboe, sports editor of the Foroyaa newspaper and treasurer of the Sports Journalists Association of the Gambia (SJAG), died in the accident after his four-wheel land cruiser vehicle plunged headlong from the ferry into the river, shortly before the ferry depart for Banjul. 

He was said to be on his way to Banjul, back from his home village of Bakindick in Niumi district in the North Bank Region, where he observed this year’s Tobaski feast with his family. 

The rescue workers at the ferry terminal in Barra were once again tested for their readiness as they were overwhelmed by the incident for several hours, while onlookers wondered if the workers were really primed for such an eventuality. 

The accident occurred on Saturday morning, and engaged the rescue workers throughout the day until Sunday morning, when the body was finally recovered from the river in Essau. 

Eyewitnesses gave contradictory statements about how the accident happened. While some said it occurred when Darboe was instructed by a man believed to be working in the ferry to move his vehicle which was already parked forward, when there was no barrier to stop any vehicle from plunging overboard, others claimed there was in fact a cable or chain for that purpose. 

When contacted to shed light on the incident, Halifa Bah, the director of Operations Ferry Services described it as unfortunate, adding that this was the first of its kind in the history of the Gambia

"I can't imagine what happened leading to the decease's vehicle falling into the river, because there is a barrier," Bah said.

It might have been as a result of the vehicle's "break failure, as there was a barrier", Mr. Bah told our reporter in an interview yesterday.

Bah added that the entire management of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) was shocked by the sudden death of Lamin A. Darboe, and announced that the GPA management will meet today to look into the situation, so as to avoid any further occurrence of such.  

Lamin Darboe, who was recently elected into the executive committee of SJAG, is a qualified teacher with PTC and HTC certificates.

Ba Ansu Darboe, father of the deceased, confirmed to our reporter that the body of the late Darboe was found yesterday morning in the river at Essau.

He told this reporter in a telephone interview that the body was immediately taken to the Fire and Rescue Service premises in Barra, before being transferred to the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital for a post-mortem.

Sam Sarr, the managing editor of Foroyaa newspaper, described the late Darboe as a gentleman with a calm character, who also enjoyed a good relationship with everybody within the Foroyaa family.

"I received the news of Darboe's demise from secondary sources on Saturday morning at around 11.30am, but what is certain is that the incident occurred when his vehicle plunged into the river at the Barra ferry terminal," Sarr told this reporter in a telephone interview yesterday.

According to him, the news was received with great sadness by everybody at Foroyaa, where Darboe had a strong relationship with everyone at his workplace.

During his time as a member of the SJAG, according to Sainabou Kujabi, president of the association ,the late Darboe was an active sports reporter as manifested by the services he rendered in sports development at various levels.

Kujabi, who described the news of Darboe's demise as shocking, added that his memory will remain in the hearts of his media colleagues forever.

"I came to know Darboe since 1998, during our days with Radio Gambia as roving reporters for Sports Roundup under the leadership of Peter Gomez," Pa Modou Faal, auditor of the SJAG said.

"Despite been a qualified teacher, Darboe has devoted all his life to sports journalism where his significant contribution is considered to be one of the driving forces behind the country's success in sports reporting in various disciplines."

According to Faal, Darboe's legacy should not be allowed to die as he has done extremely well for Gambian sports, especially at the community and the grassroots levels.

Darboe is survived by a wife and three children.

Author: Lamin Drammeh of The Piont.gm

Foroyaa Reporter Laid To Rest

By Saikou Jammeh

Foroyaa newspaper sports editor late Lamin A Darboe who met his untimely death under controversial circumstances on Saturday 20th November, was gently laid to rest Monday at Old Jeshwang cemetery.

Returning to Kombo from his home village, Bakindik, North Bank region, where he joined his family and friends to celebrate the Tobaski feast, Mr Lamin Darboe fell-off from a Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) Ferry bound for Banjul,with his vehicle into the river. He drowned and the dead body was only recovered the following day – Sunday.

Eye witnesses say Lamin had cried for help as he resurfaced two times after felling-off into the water, but there was no rescue attempt made by authorities to save his life. 

However, Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) says the accident might result from a break failure. 

But given the controversial circumstances under which Lamin died, family members said they will pursue the matter to ensuring justice is met.

Foroyaa newspaper also urged authorities to make Corona’s Inquest into the cause of Lamin’s death. 

Meanwhile the journalist cum teacher has been described as disciplined, righteous, hardworking and generous young-man by family members, colleagues and other relatives. 

“He has built an Islalmic School with the aid of philanthropist [in Bakindiki village] where over 300 pupils are attending Quranic lessons,” elders from the village confirmed.

His co-workers at Foroyaa newspaper and colleague journalist from other newspapers also described him as a generous, honest and hardworking mate.

“We have just held our elections and Lamin has been elected our treasure,” Pa Modou Faal, an acting Editor-in-Chief of independent Point Newspaper, also auditor, Sports Journalists Association (SJAG) said. 

Source: Ngetcell.blogspot.com

 

Federation of African Journalists president on plights of Deyda Hydara, others

The President of the Federation of African Journalists, Omar Faruk Ousman, has said the continent has lost high-profile journalists in The Gambia such as the late Deyda Hydara and Omar Barrow.

Mr Faruk Ousman, who made these remarks yesterday at a press conference held at the Gambia Press Union in Bakau Newtown, expressed concern over the missing of journalist chief Ebrima Manneh, challenging the authorities to launch an investigation into his disappearance while on duty at his media house as well as into the killing of Deyda Hydara, to judiciously deal with these matters.

He reiterated his association’s willingness to fight for freedom and protection of journalists in the continent including those in The Gambia.

According to him, thirteen journalists were killed this year nine of whom in Somalia and three in Nigeria. 

He however maintained that they would make all efforts to ensure journalists operate in a more conducive environment.

He further revealed that they paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Justice of The Gambia on Wednesday to discuss some major problems affecting their work and how to create and maintain a peaceful environment for them to function.

For his part, the president of the Nigeria Union of Journalists who also doubles as the president of the West African Journalists Association, Mohammed Garba, lamented that many journalists were arrested and beaten in recent years in the continent.

He added that their associations will give more support to young journalists in the continent.

Author: Lamin Darboe of The Point News Papar

 

WAJA, FAJ chiefs brief the press

The presidents of the West African Journalists Association (WAJA) and the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) Thursday briefed reporters on their role on the safety and protection of African journalists, at a press briefing held at the Gambia Press Union head office along Garba Jahumpa Road  in Bakau.

The media chiefs are in the country with another group of journalists from the continent as participants in the 48th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Right, to promote the campaign for freedom of expression and protection of journalists in the African continent. Speaking at the briefing, Omar Faruk Ousman, the president of FAJ said they are trying to gauge both themselves and the civil society groups in defending human rights in Africa as well as see how best they can advance the security and protection of African journalists and mobilise them. "We have had a panel on the freedom of expression situation at the NGOs forum addressing the intimidations, killings and harassment, among other things in the media and journalists of this continent," he said.

He revealed that this year alone13 journalists have been killed in Africa and this problem has become a routine in the continent. "Killings of journalists in most countries are politically organised and motivated so no one will be punished for that because the political system is protecting them or are the masterminds of these heinous crimes. This was the major problem confronting all of us," he stated.

He noted that these crimes against journalists are happening almost in every country, and further cited countries like Somalia, DR Congo, Darfur region in Sudan amongst others. He also blamed the fact that Nigeria is not a war zone country but journalists are being kidnapped and suppressed. "It has lost three journalists whilst doing their journalistic work like in the case of Uganda and many other African countries. We cannot talk about press freedom if there is no safety and security, it can't work, if there is no press freedom, there will no freedom of speech and if there is no freedom of speech, there will be no democracy," he explained. He also spoke of the rivalry relationship between the private media (independent) vis-a vis the government. He believed that there is need for a fresh start to have conducive environment for journalists to express their opinion freely.

For his part, Alhaji Muhammed Garba, president of WAJA who doubles as the president of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) said they are using the opportunity to interact with the authorities so that they can see how best their trip can come through, especially in the areas of harmonious relationship between the media and the government.

Meeting with Gambian authorities

Garba disclosed that during their meeting with the Attorney General and minister for Justice, they tried as much as possible to explain the fact that journalists and the government are partners in progress, especially in situations where there is talk about democracy, good governance, free and fair election and the rule of law. "We believed that without the media and the press democracy cannot flourish," he said. He described their meeting with the Justice minister as a fruitful one."Knowing our position and responsibility as journalists, top our agenda during that discussion. We tried as much as possible to explain and highlight the fact that there is the need to accommodate the media to carry out our social responsibility.

"We are bound to make mistakes but, as we said, this should not be termed as criminal offences, we explained that in detail. Journalists are citizens like any other persons so they have right to be protected like any other person. This was all we discussed during our meeting with the minister of Justice and I want to believe that the outcome would be very fruitful and the recommendations are considered," he said, while expressing hope that this will mark the beginning of a dialogue between the journalists and the government including the civil society in The Gambia.

He revealed that some of the tough laws were also tabled before the Justice minister for consideration and he had promised that he is going to look at those issues. He however spoke about the need to build the in-house union to enable them to be interactive so that some of the challenges faced could be addressed in a more diplomatic manner. The session was moderated by Ahmed Alota, executive director of the Gambia Press Union and characterised with question and answer session.

Author: by Musa Ndow of Daily Observer

African journalists want ‘protection’ to be top priority

NEWS - AFRICA NEWS

Banjul, Gambia - Discussion on freedom of expression and the protection of journalists was at the heart of a forum on the participation of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) at the 22nd African Human Rights Book Fair which end on Wednesday in Banjul.

This year’s panel discussion was led by African journalists for the first time, including the president of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), Omar Faruk Osman, who is leading a campaign for the African Union (AU) to make the safety and protection of journalists a top priority of the Year of Peace and Security in Africa 2010.
Giving an overview of freedom of expression in Africa, the FAJ President said insurgents and separatists had little regard for journalists, as seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In Rwanda, he said, the shadow of genocide and the media’s alleged role in it had further dealt a blow to efforts of attaining free expression.

A journalist from a Tunisian radio satellite was prosecuted and handed a jailed term of four years for covering police abuses.

“The good news is that Somali journalist Abdifitah Jama Mire, director of Horseed Media, who was convicted by a court in Bosasso for six years in jail for airing an interview with a militia leader fighting against Somalia’s Puntland government, has been released,” Osman said.

Mire was released on Monday 8 November, 2010 after 86 days of detention.

Giving a brief on freedom of expression and protection in Central Africa, Mr. Alex Gustave Azebaze of the national syndicate of journalists in Cameroon (SNJC), said the situation in the sub-region was sensitive and delicate though journalists were hardly killed.

He said a dozen journalists were arrested last year by the government of Cameroon, four charged in court while another died in custody.

Mr Azebaze said in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), journalists had been accused of being unprofessional and some of them had been killed in the process, while certain legislations in Central Africa hampered the work of journalists.

On East Africa, Mr. Alexandre Niyungeko of the Burundi Union of Journalists (UBJ) said journalists were harassed after the recently concluded elections in Burundi.

He said one journalist had been detained on allegations of a coup plot, while some journalists from a private radio station were arrested a few days ago. One of them is a female journalist who is nursing a month old baby.

This journalist, he said, was separated from her child for 48 hours. They were freed on 7 November, but they do not know why they were arrested.

Speaking on behalf of West Africa, Mr. Mohamed Garba of the West African Journalists Association (WAJA) said the security and safety of journalists and the principles of freedom of expression were non-existent in so-called democratic states in West Africa.

He said the killing of journalists still persisted. While Ghana had decriminalized draconian media laws and was working on implementation of a freedom of information act, Mauritania and The Gambia were busy instituting draconian media laws.

In Togo, journalists had been subjected to a presidential law suit, although they had been told that the charges would be withdrawn following efforts by WAJA.

He said a number of journalists had been murdered in the sub-region and they had been perplexed by the inability of security agents to fish out the perpetrators, because it was hindering investigative journalism. He also noted that three journalists were abducted in Nigeria recently.

02/07/06

THE STATE 0F FREEDOM OF THE PRESS IN WEST AFRICA

Paper Presented by Alh. Mohamed Garba, President West African Journalists Association

PANEL ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN AFRICA NGO FORUM PRECEEDING 48TH SESSION OF THE ACHPR

KAIRABA HOTEL, BANJUL,THE GAMBIA 

NOVEMBER 7, 2010

There’s no arguing the fact that the media, especially the private media in West Africa has and continues to contribute significantly towards democratic governance and accountability on the part of state officials. However, in spite of the remarkable progress made in media proliferation and diversity over the last few years, there still remain troubling concerns.

Political space for the unfettered operation of the media continues to be non-existent in many so-called `democratic' West African countries. The principal weapons used against freedom of expression in West Africa today aren’t confined to arbitrary detentions and violent physical attacks on journalists and their press houses. More and more frequently the courts have been coerced into providing the gags and handcuffs.

In the recent past, the media has demonstrated its watchdog role by playing a front role, sometimes in partnership with various regional and international institutions in the call for improved democracy, good governance and respect for the rule of law, in turn, West African citizens are today more than ever before aware of their rights as citizens, the role of their governments and the various public institutions notably the judiciary, parliaments and inter-governmental organizations.   One of the most striking features of the high level of awareness of West African citizens are the sacrificial efforts made by media practitioners to safeguard the freedom of the press.  Newspapers in particular are almost unavoidably highly critical, and State authorities seek to control them.   These and a variety of factors led lead an ‘official’ repressive enthusiasm, and these are the relative basis on which the number of press prosecutions and the seeming reluctance to enforce positive press legislation. 

The price tag for this boom and the strides to improve ... does not only end at for West African journalists we have had cases of exile, enforced disappearances, death threats, murder.

Over the years, some governments and regional institutions have also recognized the crucial role of the Press to achieve these goals. Some countries including Liberia and Ghana have liberalized a lot of restrictive media laws by decriminalizing press offences and doing away with some of the archaic colonial laws that were used to muzzle divergent opinion.  Other countries like The Gambia, Mauritania and Togo continue to draw up new laws geared towards muzzling press freedom and freedom of information.  

There has been a marked increase in the number of media outlets now operating within the sub region, the media and press organs are faced with a host of difficulties. The media in West Africa has made a tremendous effort to defend democratic gains and to expand the bounds of freedom by trying to force accountability from officials and political institutions. These efforts have, however, made the independent media in West Africa vulnerable to potential cases for libel suits, seditious charges, contempt charges, exorbitant fines, and not infrequently, prison sentences.

One of the greatest forces preventing freedom of expression from thriving beyond statute books in West Africa has to do with unjust laws tracing back to colonial times, while successive post-colonial governments have introduced other capricious and damaging laws. 

In the past year, in a majority of the countries journalists have faced charges of libel, defamation, sedition.  

In Cote D’Ivoire and Togo, journalists have also been gagged by Presidential lawsuits and other … We however welcome the move by Togolese President … to drop all charges he raised against the 3 journalists following a petition by the WAJA.

Sennegal which used to enjoy relative press freedom has also seen a steady and unfortunate decline in the legal environment and their tendencies of authoritian moves by the State.

Surprisngly, the junta in Niger has so far made many positive strides to include the media as a partner in their transition period.  This is usually not the norm in West Africa. 

Legal sanctions have not entirely replaced other forms of oppression. For, in this decade, there have been countless arrests, detentions, harassments, beatings and murders of journalists. Progress has inevitably been met by more attacks.

Given that the context within which we operate largely remains the same, it is important to note that he daring nature of such sabotage differs from country to country. From Dele Giw’s murder in the late 1980s, to that of Dele Giwa in the 90s and that of  Deyda Hydara in 2004 all in times of peace and in West Africa, to date none of them investigated have provoked international outcry, anger and indignation at their governments. 

Journalists who guard their freedom of expression and oppose officials who want to be treated as sacred cows will continue to be gagged by the courts and thrown into prison this has also led to a mass exile of the best in West Africa’s journalism circles.  In the past year, there has also been a marked increase in the numbers of exiled journalists from Guinee Conakry, Mauritania, Guinea Bissau and The Gambia, most of them facing persecution at home.

As States do not see the defence of journalists as an issue of human rights, this has more and more also emboldened other sectors of society to attack journalists.  Another disturbing trend is the increased in physical attacks of journalists’ especially by state- actors including the police, and some members of the security agencies, who have the constitutional mandate to protect civilians including journalists. Non-state actors had also attacked journalists. In Nigeria this year alone three journalists have been killed and 6 kidnapped for other motives.  In Sierra Leone female journalists covering FGM were undressed and humiliated in public.  The burning down of and attacks against  media institutions, death threats to individual journalists and other moves to silence the media still continue unabated and uninvestigated in most of the West African countries. 

Many West Africans are pessimistic about the future of press freedom in the region, predicting a continuation of the downward spiral, We at the WAJA believe that if we are to conquer our quest for good governance, democracy and development in our sub-region, it is legitimate to ask how much press freedom really exists in West Africa and continue to work on the measures that inhibit this. 

We therefore resolve to work amongst ourselves, with development partners and state parties,

·      To consolidate the statute of journalists, their work conditions and their right to professionalism and professional representation

·      To reinforce regional solidarity, to unify and reinforce professionalism especially in the areas of addressing key professional problems in the sub-region: training, self-regulation, media laws, ethics and access to information.

To reinforce the defense of the rights social-professionals of the journalists in the area;

Women Human Rights Defenders need protection in the new AU strategies, others

By Madi Njie & Saikou Ceesay

Women Human Rights Defenders from Asia, Africa and Latin America at the end of a three day regional consultative meeting preceding the 48th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), have adopted declaration, among others, calling upon the African Union to include the protection of women human rights defenders in the new strategy of human rights in Africa.

The consultative meeting meant to further define strategies to promote their work and press for protective measures, held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel from 4 - 6 November 2010 was organised by the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), in colla boration with Conectas Direitos Humanos, African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), East Horn of African Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRDN) and W est African Human Rights Defenders Network (WAHRDN)/ROPADDH).

Reading the declaration at the closing ceremony, Madam Tilder Kumichii, Gender Empowerment and Development Officer from Cameroon on behalf of the participants "call upon the African Union to include the protection of women human rights defenders in the new strategy of human right in Africa.

She also expressed the need for the AU to consider supporting women who struggle with justice because of the work they carry out.

Madam Kumichii requests the special rapporteurs on women rights and human rights defenders of the African Commission to conduct a joint research on social fundamentalism.

She also called on the need to take ownership of the goals and objectives of the African women’s decade 2010-2020 and to involve in its effective implementation at the local, national, regional and international levels.

She also requests the African Commission to set up mechanism between the special rapporteurs on women’s human rights defenders.

She spoke of the need for promotion of collaboration among women human rights defenders from across the regions to share experiences and best practices to improve protection system in international and regional mechanisms.

She also call on the African Commission to set up a mechanism between the special rapporteur on women’s rights and human rights defenders to give particular attention to the cases of violations against women human rights defenders.

With a view to protect women human rights defenders, she said: "participants designed strategies to sensitise the broader population including men, community, traditional and religious leaders on specific challenges women human rights defenders face; use cultural approaches to highlight the challenges of women and women human rights defenders; promote and strengthen quality documentation with gender perspectives that enhance effective work of the re gional and international special rapporteurs; promote collaboration among women human rights defenders from across regions to share experiences and best practices to improve protection system in international and regional mechanisms; develop support mechanisms for women human rights defenders to effectively manage work related trauma.

Commissioner Soyata Maiga, Special Rapporteur on Rights of Women in Africa said it’s time to move into actions. "We are working as a team and with that we can overcome challenges," noting that the forum gives opportunity to push forward towards realisation of our common objectives.

In her closing remarks, Madam Reine Alapini- Gansou - African Commission Chair said a lot have been said about women human rights defenders, noting that there is a need to take stock of the past, with a view to forge ahead in this endeavor. She also said sisters in other countries should be inform about what have been discussed during the three days consultative meeting.

"We also advocate for dialogue, pointing out that nothing can be done in isolation. We need dialogue, in the absence of which nothing is possible," she said.

Other speakers at the closing ceremony include Muhammed Khalfallah Commissioner for Human Rights Defenders in Africa.

Mr Clement Voule of the International Service for Human Rights chaired the ceremony.

Source: Daily News

Will Journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh Be Seen Again?

By Lamin Njie

Colleagues, friends, well wishers and of course his family members are all asking one important question. And the question is will journalist Chief Ebrima be seen again?

This question is relevant for the fact that it is four solid years now since this young, hard working and respectful journalist of ours went missing in thin air in this very Gambia on the 7th July 2006.

Since then, concerned parties moved heaven and earth to know his whereabouts but to no avail.

What is more surprising and painful is the fact that the authorities are continuously denying knowing anything, connected to the disappearance of Ebrima Manneh (alias) Chief Manneh.

Not long ago, the ECOWAS court in Abuja, Nigeria entered judgment in his favour against the government of The Gambia that the young journalist be freed by the authorities and also compensated $100,000 but we are yet to see this happen soon as the authorities flatly deny holding him in their custody.

The former minister of Justice Marie-Saine Firdaus categorically denied state involvement in the disappearance of Chief Manneh. She defended this statement until the time she was fired from her post as Justice Minister.

Again, not long ago the current minister of Justice Edu Gomez in his response to a query from the Jarra Central representative Hon. Pa Jallow during a parliamentary sitting also denied state involvement in the disappearance of Chief Manneh.

The multimillion dollar questions now are will Chief Manneh be seen again and how soon will this be. Who is/are holding him and at where and for what reason(s).

Until these questions are answered we will keep writing on the disappearance of Chief Manneh and our inks shall not run dry.

The world is watching and at the same time listening.

Source: Daily News.

We Fear For Our Lives: We Can’t Fight a Giant Gamcotrap Officials Decry

By Saikou Ceesay & Madi Njie

The two top officials of Gamcotrap, a women’s rights organization campaigning against harmful traditional practices, especially FGM, expressed fear for their lives as the state cracks down on them over allegations of stealing funds amounting to 30, 000 Euros from a Spanish NGO.

Gamcotrap’s executive director Dr Isatou Touray and programme officer Amie Bojang Sissoho made this claim on Thursday at the opening of a 3-day forum by women’s rights defenders ahead of the African Commission Ordinary Session.

Sharing their ordeal with colleagues (rights defenders) from across the continent Dr. Touray said they were arrested and put in a cage at the police station without access to their lawyers.

"We were remanded at mile two prison for nine days by a court order. It was at Mile Two that we had access to lawyers," she said.

"These are some of the problems we are facing. "This is what we are going through and we fear for our lives. We don’t know where it is going to end, because we cannot fight with a giant. But I hope that justice will prevail in a society where human rights are respected," she remarked.

The two prominent women’s rights activists are being tried at the magistrates’ court in Banjul over theft allegations, but Dr. Touray said it is politically motivated.

They were arrested Monday11th October , 2010 and spent a night in detention at the police headquarters before being rushed to court the following day, where an order was made for them to be detained at Mile Two Central prison for nine days as their request for bail was turned down.

They were subsequently released on bail on Wednesday October 20, in the sum of D1.5m

"What have we done," she quizzed. "Is it because we are standing for those who cannot speak? Is it that we are standing for the voice of the voiceless? The critical question is how committed is our state in promoting women’s rights. How much commitment government made on promoting women’s rights? Why are human rights defenders a target of the state? How effective are the mechanisms in place to monitor compliance to human rights issues?"

Dr Touray expressed the need for unity to ensure that women’s rights are protected. "Today it is Gamcotrap and tomorrow it could be African Center, or other organizations working in the field of human rights."

"The challenge is how to make the state understand that activists are not against them, but rather we are trying to help them reach the other side of the coin," she advanced.

For her part Mrs. Amie Bojang Sissoho said their role is to ensure that whatever they are doing is based on the commitments the state made, in the promotion of women’s human rights.

"We as women of The Gambia have to beware of the UN conventions and how we can reflect on them in our daily realities. This is what our mandate is all about, and this is the work we are doing. Women whose rights are violated need to understand the realities. In doing this we look at women whose rights are violated and other violations of reproductive health and rights of women," the Gamcotrap program officer noted.

Source: Daily News

Dr. Touray, Amie Bojang Granted Bail

By Fabakary B. Ceesay on 22-10-10 (208 reads) News by the same author

 

 

 

Principal Magistrate Emmanuel Nkea of the Banjul Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, 20th October granted bail to the two remanded female gender activists and human rights defenders, Dr Isatou Touray, the Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP and Mrs. Bojang Sissoho, the programme officer of the organisation. Superintendent Joof, who represented the Inspector General of Police (IGP), told the Court that the prosecution still maintains their stance for the Court not to grant bail to the two female activists. But Magistrate Nkea indicated that the case was not set for bail, but for the prosecution to call their witness.

Superintendent Joof stated that their witness was not available and asked for an adjournment. He told the Court that although the Police have completed their investigation into the case, the Prosecution fears that the accused persons can interfere with their witnesses if they are granted bail. He added that both accused persons are powerful people in their organisation.
The defence counsel Amie Bensouda argued that the prosecution has misconceived
the order of the Court. She stated that the only reason they were in court is about a bail issue. She read out the order that was given by the Court on the previous sitting date. She added that if the prosecution is ready to proceed with their witness, the defence is ready too. Defence Counsel Bensouda posited that both the prosecution and defence are bound to abide by the orders of the Court. She stated that under the Gambian law, all accused persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. She noted that the prosecution earlier sought the indulgence of the Court and so they should not try to ignore that. She referred the Court to two cases from the High Court of Nigeria and the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe. She pointed out that the prosecution has completed investigation into the matter which started since May 2010. She said that the investigators have seized twenty three (23) documents from the office of the accused persons to carry out the investigation against them.
Lawyer Bensouda said, “Any indulgence granted to the prosecution by the Court would be seen as bias, because the accused persons have been in police custody for a day and eight days at the Mile Two Prison by the order of the Court. Let us abide by the law as we are officers of the Court and the law. The prosecution is not for persecution, but instead to prosecute”.
Mrs. Bensouda cited the case of Lai Conteh and the State and urged the Court to dismiss the demand of the prosecution.
Delivering his ruling on the arguments advanced by both sides, Principal Magistrate Nkea said he has carefully listened to both the defence and the prosecution. He stated that since the investigation into the matter has been completed, it would not be fair to remand the accused persons. He therefore granted bail to the first accused person, Doctor Touray, in the sum of one million and five hundred thousand dalasi (D1.5 million), and that she must produce two Gambian sureties who must have landed property within the Greater Banjul Area.
Mrs. Amie Bojang Sissoho was granted bail in the sum of one million and five hundred thousand dalasi (D1.5 million) and she must produce two Gambians sureties with landed properties within the Greater Banjul Area.
The two female gender activists and human rights defenders were arrested on Monday 11 October and charged with theft. They are accused of stealing 30,000 Euros given to their organisation by a Spanish association called “Yolocamba Solidaridad”. They pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against them and were subsequently remanded by the Court.
The Court was full to capacity and people embraced and shook hands with the accused persons when bail was granted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MESSAGE FROM H.E.Mr. Jean PING,

CHAIRPERSON OF THE AFRICAN UNION COMMISSION

TO THE AFRICAN YOUTH

On the occasion of the African Youth Day 2010 and the International Year of Youth, I have the great pleasure to convey my sincere congratulations and my best wishes to all African Youth within the continent and the Diaspora!

African Union believes in your dynamism, optimism, solidarity and dedication to make a peaceful Africa, while the Continent is celebrating Peace and Security for sustainable Development. I am fully confident that African youth are playing important role in this process and contributing in sharing the peace values on the Continent, because youth can make peace happen.

The celebration of the African Youth Day on 1st November and 12 months of celebration of the occasion of the international Year of Youth are, together, given opportunities to value mutual understanding and strengthen peace among the young people in Africa, by using more comprehensive dialogue and avoiding conflicts. The theme chosen for both events is so important and meaningful for the whole Africa in a general manner and in particular for the youth. Peaceful communication and dialogue is needed in Africa and can lead all stakeholders to consensus and mutual understanding in so many issues favourable for sustainable development.

The African Union is grateful for your efforts towards networking capacity building, sharing of knowledge, values, collaboration spirit and actions with the AUC, the public authorities and private sector within the continent. The African Union, through its Commission, is also committed to provide the necessary means to facilitate youth participation, visibility, contribution and concrete results for sustainable impacts on African development. The Commission will continue contributing to the strengthening of the youth capacities, skills and networking. The AU Heads of State and Government have always expressed their political will to see the young people strengthened and empowered for quality contribution to the positive change in Africa. Therefore, you, young people of Africa, should take advantage of this opportunity and work harder for more quality and sustainable achievements. Considering the fact that in 2010, in the Summit of Heads of State and Government have decided to devote the July 2011 Summit to the reflection on ways and means to “accelerate youth empowerment for sustainable development” is even more expression of the recognition of the role that African Youth can and must play within the Continent, not only in its quest for sustainable peace, but also in development and true integration of its people, including the youth.

In response to the call of the Heads of State, the Commission, the youth leaders and the African Union Ministers in charge of youth are working through approved frameworks, programmes and projects to improve youth capacities and participation, such as the establishment and implementation of the African Union Youth Volunteers Corps, Roadmap to implement the plan of action for the Decade for youth development, the Promotion of the technical vocational education training, the Implementation of the African youth Charter, the establishment of the database and the mapping on African youth organizations, the active preparation of July 2011 Summit etc. A common position for priority actions for African youth development is adopted by African Ministers of Youth, presented in the World Youth Conference in Mexico and taken into account in the global Declaration that was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2010. The youth agenda has become a priority matter in many member States and considered in many Partners’ mandate, as a necessary road to sustain African development.

I, therefore, wish to encourage all the AU Member states and the African Youth to take the advantage from this momentum on the global and continental concern towards Youth development agenda and enhance partnership in order to give more impetus on youth policies and programmes. I also encourage the stakeholders involved in youth issues to engage more dialogue in order to establish mutual understanding on problems and challenges facing the youth in Africa. It’s the only way to reach peaceful and sustainable solutions. This celebration offers a great opportunity to establish mutual confidence between generations in order to reduce the damageable existing gaps.

Finally, I encourage the African Youth to continue to champion for the dissemination of the African values among themselves and the society in general. Science and Technology are extremely important on this continent, but it may not always promote Patriotism and Pan-Africanism, but the values of Patriotism can promote good citizenship, governance, encourage the dissemination of values and constructive learning dedicated to the relevant knowledge and skills to a better mastery of Science, Technology, ICT and other necessary knowledge towards a sustainable development of Africa.

African Youth, I know you can bring the change, but are you doing enough to promote dialogue and mutual understanding” towards values, leadership, capacity building, etc.?

Your charter: the African Youth Charter holds the answer. Your responsibilities and duties to promote tolerance, understanding, dialogue and respect for others regardless of age, race ethnicity, colour, gender, religion, status and political affiliation are stated. The Charter has entered into force since August 2009. Ensure that it is implemented. Be proud of your Charter and use it! The youth in the world are using it… Be proud of being African Youth, the driving force of the continent’s development and WORK PROUDLY WITH GOOD CONSCIENCE FOR AFRICA!

Long live to the African Youth and May God continue blessing Africa!

November 1st 2010

 Jean Ping

 Chairperson of the African Union Commission

DEYDA HYDARA, CHIEF MANNEH HONOURED

The African Editors Forum (TAEF) yesterday October 14th honoured the Late Deyda Hydara and disappeared journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh with the “‘Hero of African Journalism Award’ at a Gala Dinner held in Hotel Amitie, Bamako, Mali under the patronage of His Excellency Ahmadou Toumani Toure, President of Mali.

Though bittersweet, the Gambia Press Union joins the two families to express its delight, and considers our two heroes privileged to be among five journalists (the late Norbert Zongo, Burkina Faso; Jean Leonard Rugambage, Rwanda; And, Pius Njawe, Camerron) honoured in all of the region.

This recognition also further strengthens our principled belief that the death of Deyda Hydara and the disappearance of Chief Ebrima Manneh will never dampen our spirits, serve as deterrent for professional journalism or cower us in our determination to seek the truth and to report objectively, without fair or favour. 

The fact that colleagues all over the continent deem it necessary to remember them for posterity is heartwarming and encouraging.  It should send a strong message to the killers of Deyda Hydara and those behind the disappearance of Chief Ebrima Manneh that they can run, they can hide, in the short term, but the truth will one day prevail as we, our partners and those with a conscience all over the world will continue to sing their songs and demand that the truth be unearthed.

Deyda and Chief were honoured alongside distinguished and honourable African leaders, considered ‘friends of the media’, Presidents Nelson Mandela, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Thabo Mbeki, John Kuffour and Alpha Oumar Konare for their efforts in building transparent societies, promoting and implementing media friendly policies in their countries, institutions and across Africa.

Speaking earlier at the opening ceremony of the three day TAEF Bi-Annual Conference and Congress on the theme “Media and the Challenge of Peace in Africa”, Ahmadou Toumani Toure, President of Mali and Chief Patron of the event expressed delight that of recent, media institutions have targeted Mali as the host of their organizations and activities because of its friendliness to the media and efforts being made by his government to implement and build on existing positive media laws.  “I have personally been involved in the planning of this meeting, which brings together 200 editors and journalists from all over Africa, given orders to the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Communications to ensure the smooth and successful hosting of this meeting.  I am pleased to welcome you here in Mali, your home,” he said.

Deyda Hydara’s award was received by his daughter Marie Piere Hydara and Musa Manneh, brother of Chief Ebrima Manneh represented the Manneh family.

 

Dr. Touray, Amie Bojang Sissoho Remanded

Fabakary B. Ceesay

Two female human rights defenders, Dr Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho of The Gambia Committee on Traditional Harmful Practices (GAMCOTRAP), who were arraigned before the Banjul Magistrates’ Court on Monday 11 October and re-arraigned on Tuesday 12 October, were denied bail by the Court and were subsequently sent to the female remand wing of the Mile 2 Central Prison till 20 October, when their case would resume.
When the case was called in a crowded court room, Chief Superintendent Tijan Badjie announced his appearance for the Inspector General of Police (IGP) while Lawyers Amie Bensouda, Sagarr Jahateh and Ebrima Jah announced their appearance for the two female activists.
Delivering his ruling on whether or not to grant bail to the two accused persons, Magistrate Nkea said the Court needs to consider a number of factors on whether to grant bail to the accused persons or not. He stated that the defence has forwarded some facts about the granting of bail, but has failed to indicate whether the accused persons will not interfere with the case when granted bail.
Magistrate Nkea posited that the prosecutor advanced that the accused persons are very influential people within the society and could therefore interfere with the investigation of the case when granted bail. He added that the prosecutor asked for the Court to remand the accused persons for two weeks pending the outcome of the investigation into the case.
Magistrate Nkea ruled that he found it very difficult to make a decision on the arguments forwarded by both sides; because they both addressed him orally. He stated that he is compelled to order the police to expedite their investigation into the matter. He also ordered that both accused persons be remanded for a week at the Female Wing at the Mile 2 prison and to appear before the Court on Wednesday 20 October.
Doctor Isatou Touray, the Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP and Madam Amie Bojang Sissoho, the programme officer of the Organization were arrested on Monday 11 October and charged with theft. They were arraigned before the Court on the same day and both of them pleaded not guilty to the charge against them. They were detained at the Banjul police station over night, pending the ruling on the argument about granting them bail or not.
Doctor Touray and Madam Bojang Sissoho are charge with “Theft”, “The charge sheet read as thus, “the duo in 2009 jointly stole the sum of 30, 000 Euros provided by the “Yolacamba Solidaridad” in Spain to GAMCOTRAP in The Gambia and thereby committed an offence.’’
Sourse: FOROYAA.COM

The Point Acting Editor-in-Chief Resigns

11th October, 2010

By Lamin Njie

Confirmed reports reaching this paper have it that Ebrima Sawaneh, the acting editor-in-chief of The Point newspaper has on Wednesday October 6, 2010 tendered his resignation letter to the management of the paper.

Mr. Sawaneh is said to have been appointed by the Brikama Area Council (BAC) as Council Clerk and he is expected to start his new job today.

When contacted to shed more light on his resignation, Mr.Sawaneh told this reporter to give him time to settle in his new job. "I will grant you an interview as soon as I settle down," he said.

It could be recalled that last year, Ebrima Sawaneh was among the six journalists who were convicted and sentenced by the high court on charges of sedition only to be later pardoned by the president.

Meanwhile, The Daily News has learned that Pa Modou Faal, Nfamara Jawneh and Baboucarr Senghore are now the acting editors- in- chief of The Point.

At the time of going to press, no reason for Mr. Sawaneh’s resignation as editor-in-chief of The Point has been given.

Source:www.dailynews.gm

African Journalists Condemn Kidnapping of Union Leaders in Nigeria

Friday, July 16, 2010  

 

The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), the African Regional Organisation of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), strongly condemned the kidnapping of Zonal leaders of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) on 11 July 2010 as deplorable and a criminal act that was intended to destabilise NUJ’s dynamic leadership’s commitment to defend journalists’ rights and interests. According to a statement from NUJ,...

Message by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr. JEAN PING, On the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day

Monday, May 10, 2010  

While we are celebrating the 17th edition of the World Press Freedom Day, 168 journalists are currently imprisoned around the world for expressing their opinions. Of course, considerable progress has been made since the 1990’s, with the advent of a new era which favours multiparty politics and, at the same time, the birth of an independent press whose outspokenness has been beneficial to governance and democracy. However, since the 1991 Windhoek...

IFJ Calls for an end to Impunity, Violence perpetrated Against Journalists

Thursday, May 6, 2010  

World Press Freedom, was celebrated all over the world on Monday May 3rd 2010, here is a reproduction of IFJ on the day.

The 2nd Congress of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) held in Harare, Zimbabwe from March 27th -  28th 2010, strongly expressed  concerns about  the recurrent threats, violations, aggressions and assassinations against  journalists in the course of  their duties to inform the...

GPU Observes World Press Freedom Day

Thursday, May 6, 2010  

Gambia Journalists under the stewardship of the Gambia Press Union (GPU) on Monday 3rd May 2010 observed World Press Freedom Day. 3rd May had been set aside by the United Nations to reflect on press freedom and related issues. The observation of the day in the Gambia took the form of a symposium organized by GPU at the Alliance Franco Premises.

Speaking on the topic Threats to Media Freedom, the Former Director of Information Service, Mr....

US Senate: Manneh is a prisoner of conscience

"Release the Reporter," the US Senate addresses the Gambian President. Read the comments in this PDF-file.

 

Chief Manneh Still Missing

Ebriba Manneh
F. Jaw Manneh

Journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh of the Daily Observer who was last seen when he reported for work on July 7, 2006 is still missing.

Despite several attempts by his family, the GPU, concerned international organisations to locate his whereabouts or to get the State to release him as there have been claims of sightings of him at various Police Stations across the country, State Security Apparatus’ deny knowledge of his whereabouts or continued detention.

In June 2007, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), filed a complaint at the sub-regional Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja, Nigeria to compel the Gambia Government to unconditionally release Manneh or to answer for his arrest and subsequent detention.

Judgment on the case which was expected to be delivered on January 31, 2007 has been deferred several times as key witnesses (2 National Intelligence Agents alleged to have arrested Manneh and five other state security personnel) from The Gambia have failed to appear before the Courts despite summons’ sent to them through the Gambia High Commission in Abuja.
The MFWA is a regional independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Accra. It was founded in 1997 to defend and promote the rights and freedom of the media and all forms of expression.

Fatou Jaw Manneh’s Trial continues
by LAMIN NJIE
The protracted sedition trial of Fatou Jaw Manneh, a Gambian journalist based in the United States Wednesday, April … continued before principal Magistrate Buba Jawo of the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court.

GPU gets new executive

On Saturday March 22, the general body of the Gambia Press Union massively elected outgoing Secretary General, Ndey Tapha Sosseh into the office of president. 

Ms Sosseh emerged winner follwoing a caontest against the The Point’s Ebrima Sawaneh.  The two were nominated when Madi Ceesay, outgoing President announced at the Union’s triennial Congress Saturday that he would not run for a second term.

The President elect told journalists that her executive would focus on “ capacity building and intensive training programmes for journalists, self regulation in the industry, a constitutional (GPU) review and championing the cause of press freedom.
 
The members of the new GPU executive include first and second vice president, Modou Nyang and Sarata Jabbie Dibba; Secretary General, Emil Touray; first and second Assistant Secretary General, Lamin Njie and Madi Njie; Treasurer, Pa Modou Faal; And two copted members , Amie Sanneh and Buya Jammeh.
 
The Congress, chaired by Swaebou Conateh was held at the President’s Awards Scheme Bakau and elections were conducted by the Independent Electoral Commission.

Freedom of Press

The speech, given by Mr Kevin M. Goldberg, a visiting legal expert on media and law issues.

Campaign for free expression

Access to information

Click to read the press releases from The 51st Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)

Members of the Working Group of the African Platform on Access to Information (APAI) featured in a session on the right to information.

·         a press statement on the NGO forum resolution on Access to Information

·         a press statement on the submission made to the ACHPR by the APAI Working Group

·         a copy of the statement/submission to the ACHPR.

Media Law Analysis

Analysis of Selected Laws on Media. Click to read the report

Monitoring Report

Click to read the GPU Media Monitoring Report 2011. 

GPU response

Read the open letter to the President

GAMBIA PRESS UNION

PROHIBITION OF SMOKING AT THE GAMBIA PRESS UNION PREMISES:

This is to inform members, visitors and the general public that despite management’s efforts to discourage people from smoking at the Gambia Press Union premises, people still continue to smoke within the premises.

We wish to remind those doing this act that smoking in public is strictly prohibited at the GPU premises, as it’s an office for members and the general public. This notice is in line with the Union’s policy and the newly Anti-Smoking Act being enforced.

Appropriate actions will be taken against anybody found wanting on such practices.

The cooperation of all those concerned is highly solicited.

In the service of our members and the Gambia as a nation, we remain.

No. 5 Garba Jahumpa Road, Bakau Newtown

P. O. Box 1440, Banjul, The Gambia url: www.gambiapressunion.com email: gpu@qanet.gm

Gambia Press Union
Design: qvi grafisk, Web: ager media