By Mafugi Ceesay
The Gambia Press Union on Saturday marked world press freedom day with a symposium.
Speaking at the occasion, the GPU president Sheriff Bojang Jr paid tribute to Gambia’s media practitioners who went through hell during the former regime because they had or they wanted to tell the truth.
“They were arrested, detained, tortured, and some of them disappeared while others lost their lives. To all of them and their families I say the GPU will not forget you and your sacrifice to get this country out of dictatorship. We will continue to celebrate the likes of Deyda Hydara, Chief Ebrima Manneh, Musa Saidykhan, Lamin Fatty, Musa Saidykhan, Lamin Cham and many others who were victims of atrocity and heavy-handedness,” Mr Bojang said.
He said today journalists are free to gather and disseminate information without watching over their shoulders.
“But that is not enough. While we succeed in getting some of the draconian media laws out of the way, some other laws remain and we are concerned that unless we get them out of the way, we cannot guarantee the freedom we’ve been yearning for. When it comes to access to information, there are still challenges. We want to specifically bring to the attention of the presidency that when journalists’ access to State House is limited, the only option for the public will always be rumors, speculations and insinuations.
There cannot be any meaningful democracy if there’s no accountability and transparency. We call on the government to give access to the media when it comes to information that interests the citizens,” Bojang stressed
The minister of Information Ebrima Sillah first apologized for the recent statement he made about the media, saying his speech was misconstrued and taken out of context.
He said: “I should have said it in a better way to avoid double interpretation as a journalist myself.”
Speaking further the Information Minister reiterated gov’t’s unflinching support to the media as he outlined the important role journalists have played in ending Yahya Jammeh’s two-decade dictatorship.