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GPU moves to address capacity gaps in court reporting

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By Omar Bah

The Gambia Press Union (GPU) has recently trained several journalists on court reporting in an attempt to bridge the capacity gap in the subject ares. The union has continued to prioritise capacity building of its members especially in the areas of court reporting and investigation. It has insisted that while journalism continues to evolve there is need for journalists to build interest in investigation.

The GPU President Muhammed MS Bah said journalists continue to face serious challenges in reporting on court proceedings in The Gambia largely due to limited availability of training opportunities on court reporting.

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“The last major court reporting training organised by the GPU was 5 years ago and with an increasing number of newcomers being sent to report from the courts with little or no understanding of the procedures and ethics, there is need to conduct more trainings,” he said.

MS Bah said the union is committed to continue its capacity building project.

“We consider capacity building as one of the most important components of work because without the needed capacity and knowledge journalists will find it difficult to report on sensitive matters like the court,” he said.

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He said court reporting requires specialised knowledge and understanding of certain legal terms which are frequently used in court proceedings.

“It also requires good writing skills and knowledge of media laws and journalism ethics. In view of this, the GPU aims to address this challenge by training 20 journalists drawn from newspapers, radio, Television, and online, on crime and court reporting with a focus on an introduction to law, Gambia’s legal systems, court processes and procedures, crime reporting, ethics of reporting crime, rules of court reporting, reporting on children, and understanding media laws, and writing court stories,” he said.

In July 2022, he added, the GPU and the Media Council of The Gambia (MCG) had to issue a statement warning journalists and media houses that repeatedly violated their professional ethics to refrain from exposing the identity of minors involved in rape and manslaughter cases.

Also, in July last year, the owner of a popular online platform faced charges in court for allegedly publishing and revealing the identity of a minor who is involved in a parental dispute and custody battle.

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