By Tabora Bojang
The deputy permanent secretary ministry of information, Malick Jones, has said that freedom of expression is one of the most essential rights any individual can have.
DPS Jones made this remark during the commencement of a 16- day training of trainers course on freedom of expression held at a local hotel in Kololi.
The training, orgainised by the GPU, was part of a 2-year project funded By UNDEF which is geared toward promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression, through capacity building, awareness raising and advocacy for legal and policy reforms in the Gambia.
“The right to free speech is one of the most precious rights an individual has. In the Gambia section (25) of the 1997 Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, assembly, association and movement. This right gives people the opportunity to speak their mind and give their opinions of what they think should happen,” he said.
He said democracy can thrive not only under the vigilant eyes of legislation but also under the care and guidance of public opinion, adding that the press is the vehicle through which opinion can become articulate.
“This training of trainers on freedom of expression has come at an appropriate time when journalists need all the paraphernalia that govern the rules and regulations that will guide them in their work under a conducive and democratic environment.
“The ministry of information seizes this opportunity to congratulate the GPU yet again in its efforts to complement the Government on its efforts to create the enabling landscape for the protection and promotion of freedom of expression,” he noted.
According to him, they rely on journalists to report accurately the controversies of the day and protect their right not to reveal sources but “we expect them to be responsible in their factual reporting to check their sources and to have regard to the need to observe some degree of restraint when reporting or commenting on matters that affect the rights of others.”
He called on the participants to take the training seriously and use the modules and concepts of freedom of expression to their best advantage.
According to the GPU, the training will be held in four sets of four days of each week and will bring together journalists, civil society members and public information officers.