GPU discusses safety, security of journalists with police chief

The board and staff of the Gambia Press Union on Thursday 9th August  paid a courtesy visit to the Inspector General of Police to discuss the safety and security of media practitioners in the country.

The meeting with the police senior management was prompted by the recent rising incidents of attacks on journalists and media practitioners by political party supporters and the police.

The most recent attack was an assault, allegedly, by the former ruling APRC security and supporters, on the GRTS news crew during funeral proceedings of late Asombi Bojang, the mother of exiled ex-president, Yahya Jammeh.

Saikou Jammeh, secretary general of GPU, said the experiences and records of the Gambian media during the 22 years of the former government was written in blood.

“The expectation was that with the change of government, the narrative would be different but so far, the experience is nothing to write home about.

Mr Jammeh said the rising spate of attacks on media practitioners is of grave concern to the GPU, and urged the police high command to launch full investigation into these ugly incidents and take proactive measures to avoid future occurrence.

IGP Mamour Jobe commended the leadership of the GPU for engaging the police senior management on the security of journalists, saying the work of the police is to protect the lives and properties of everyone, including journalists.

The IGP said he and the other members of the police senior management were regretful of the recent attack meted out to the GRTS news crew.  He assured that the police were assiduously working on the case and will bring the perpetrators to book.

On the case of Pa Modou Bojang, a Brikama-based journalist who was allegedly mal-handled and beaten by men of Police Intervention Unit during the recent Faraba incident, the police chief said it has been transferred to the Faraba Commission.

“The police were working on it but with the establishment of the Faraba Commision, the case file has been transferred to the commission,” he said.

He explained that journalists should know that if any of them is attacked by either political party supporters or the police or anyone else, the first thing to do is to lodge a formal complaint to the police so that investigation can be open into the case.

As a way forward, he said, any deployment of police to any place that would require media coverage, the personnel will be briefed about how to engage with the media.

He advised that journalists should make sure they have their press cards with them on any coverage where the police are present and also journalists should avoid any confrontation with police on duty.

The IGP said his office is open to media fraternity for any engagement with a view to better the police-press relationship.