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Gov’t expresses concern over Gambia’s drop in press freedom index

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By Omar Bah

The Minister of Information, Dr Ismaila Ceesay, has expressed government’s concern over the country’s drop in the latest World Press Freedom Index and vowed to ensure that The Gambia scores well in the next ranking.

Reporters Without Borders, in its 2024 World Press Freedom Index, ranked The Gambia 10th in Africa and 58th in the world. RSF is an international non-profit and non-governmental organisation focused on safeguarding the right to freedom of information.

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Last year, The Gambia scored fifth in Africa and 46th in the global ranking.

Sadibou Marong, RSF director for the Sub-Saharan Africa, said the reason for the decline has to do with the country’s draconian media laws introduced by the former regime, which are still in the law books”.

The President of the Gambia Press Union, Muhammed S Bah, said it is unfortunate for Gambia to drop some points in the World Press Freedom Index.

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He said the media faces challenges, especially in terms of financial sustainability, adding that it is essential for the government to support independent journalism through annual subsidies, ensuring that media outlets can fulfil their duty to inform and educate the public effectively.

“As we move forward, let us continue to advocate for press freedom, media pluralism, and the protection of journalists’ rights. By working together, we can create an environment where the media can thrive, fulfil its constitutional mandate, and serve as a beacon of democracy and good governance,” Mr Bah said.

Reaction

Reacting to the index while addressing journalists on Friday at a Freedom House event organised to commemorate World Press Freedom Day, Minister Ceesay said the government is concerned about the latest ranking.

“My ministry will do everything to work together with GPU, the Media Council, and all stakeholders to ensure that Gambia is either in the 1st or 3rd position in Africa next year and nothing above 25 in the world,” he assured.

He said his ministry will call a stakeholder meeting to try to address the issues raised by RSF and ensure that the country’s ranking is improved.

Minister Ceesay said the government is committed to upholding the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and ensuring that journalists can perform their vital role without fear of reprisal.

He said journalists play a crucial role in shaping discussions and driving proper change.

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