By Alagie Manneh
The Gambia Press Union yesterday released a statement advising President Barrow to refrain from inciting attacks against journalists and to quit distorting facts about their present situation in the country.
In what was described as another attack on the media, the president said at a rally that some of the news stories of TVs and radios are false, and credited his government for giving licenses to TVs and radios at a rate not seen before.
But the GPU said the president was not only attacking journalists but distorting facts and misleading Gambians.
“It is not accurate that the number of radios and TVs has increased by 400 percent. Maybe television but the number of radio stations hasn’t increased by even 100 percent,” GPU secretary general, Saikou Jammeh said.
Also, he described as false that no journalist has been arrested or attacked since the new government assumed office as claimed by President Barrow.
“In fact, we have more journalists assaulted in three years of the Barrow administration than the last five years of the Jammeh administration.”
“More than a dozen journalists have been arrested from 2017 to date and more than 15 media practitioners have been assaulted from 2017 to date. One of the incidents occurred during the president’s own event,” he told The Standard.
President Barrow never publicly condemned any of those incidents and his government, like Jammeh, never investigated any of the incidents, Saikou said.
“The climate of impunity remains,” he added.
Last January, two radio stations were forced to shut down on what apparently was the order of the president himself, Mr Jammeh reminded.
“Our democracy is only just emerging and cannot afford Trumpism. To sustain the gains made since the change of government, our political leaders must commit themselves; uphold and promote the values of press freedom,” Mr Jammeh said.
He called on President Barrow to be the standard bearer in that respect.
“It will be quite disappointing for him to distort the facts about the situation of journalists or incite attacks against journalists. And he seems to be doing that more regularly than acceptable in recent times,” he stated.