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Saturday, June 12, 2021

GPU holds forum on freedom of expression

By Omar Bah The Gambia Press Union (GPU) yesterday brought together representatives of the Armed and Security Services, Civil Society Organizations and the media on a day-long consultative seminar on relevant issues pertinent to freedom of expression. The forum held at the TANGO conference hall is backed by GPU and its partner The Gambia Media Support (GAMES) project aimed at building capacity for advocacy in raising standards in journalism. Discussions at the forum were also centered on the role of the media in enhancing democracy and development and building partnership with relevant institutions to recommend solutions to pave way for the enactment of press friendly laws. “It could be recalled that the Gambia Press Union has conducted three-day trainings for members of the Armed and Security Forces, members of the ministry of Justice, and the National Assembly in 2016,” said Sang Mendy Project Manager, Gambia Press Union. He continued: “To build on those trainings, the union thought it wise to bring together representatives from those three bodies, the media and civil society to discuss on press freedom issues with a view to exploring strategies aimed at expunging the draconian laws from our statue books”. “We are confident that we did not make any mistake in designing this project and bringing each and every one to this very important event hence everyone requires a right to express him/herself openly without fear of being intimidated or victimized,” he added, saying “at least now, we are all openly expressing ourselves since the coming of the new government but those laws that were limiting us to being silent remain in our books. “It is important to note that the workshops and this seminar are planned to raise the voice of GPU on its advocacy for freedom of expression and access to information with the view that representatives of state organs and Gambians understand and appreciate the importance of freedom of expression and how it can enhance democracy and development.” He said without a free media and media friendly laws, the attainment of democracy and development will remain a mere dream. “Given the fact that this is the first time that the GPU is having such an interface with key stakeholders in governance, we hope it will serve as a beginning of what should be long-lasting corporations,” he noted. Mr Mendy thanked the Danish Civil Society Organization through the Gambia Media Support (GAMES) for providing them with the funds to carry out the project. Meanwhile Saikou Jammeh the GPU secretary general said the forum being the last phase of the GAMES project the union deems it necessary to bring together participants from all sectors in the promotion of freedom of expression. “It is also with the aim of coming out with some strategies on what next we should all do in creating an enabling environment for media freedom and freedom of expression in the Gambia,” he said. He added: “It is very timely because we now have a new government and so far there are assurances that there will be greater freedom of the press and development. But we also know that there are areas that we need to look into such as building the capacity of journalists.” Gibairu Janneh former GPU executive director highlighted the need for the media and other stakeholders both in government and in the private sector to come together in the areas of sharing information.]]>

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