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City of Banjul
Thursday, February 25, 2021

Journalism is not a crime!

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Ever since the arrest they have been in very sorry and deplorable conditions and has since been sentenced. In June, Greste, an Australian, and Fahmy, an Egyptian-Canadian, received seven-year jail terms, while Mohamed, an Egyptian, was sentenced to 10 years, in a case that sparked international outrage. However an Egyptian court will be convening on January 1st to see whether the appeals against their convictions are considered.

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Around the world journalists and media practitioners continue to be the targets of brutal and authoritative regimes. The flow of information which is an integral part of democracy is ever a threat to those leaders who continue to usurp the basic rights of their citizens, and the ones that stand at that threshold between information and the masses are the journalists, which makes them their prime targets. These despotic regimes have imprisoned, tortured and in some cases killed media men and women, all in a drive to kill transparency and the exposure of their heinous crimes. 


It should be remembered by those leaders that press freedom is a cardinal pillar in the democratic process of any nation. The amount of freedom accorded to the media is in direct proportion to the maturity and fullness of good governance and democracy in a state.  


The Gambia has been taking steps towards the provision of a free press, but we are still lagging behind. The unsolved murder of Deyda Hydara, the disappearance of Ebrima ‘Chief’ Manneh, the continuous closure of The Daily News newspaper etc, are cases in point.  


In a world that is increasingly becoming intolerant, it becomes ever more prudent to engage in the diversification of the dialogue process, and this is not possible without a vibrant media. In a nutshell, a free press serves as an instrument in making a peaceful society. So in undermining the necessity of a free press which is the focal point of the much-cherished freedom of expression, we are in fact making it difficult to make democracy, transparency and accountability a dream that can be fulfilled.


The case of the Al Jazeera journalists are not isolated but part of a greater, albeit sad reality all over the world. The abuse of the rights of journalists is nothing but an undermining of democracy and human rights; for it’s those two concepts which are very central to the modern discourse, that empower the free flow of information and transparency in governance. 


So we strongly condemn the sentences that were handed down by the Egyptian court to the journalists and we hope that they’ll be acquitted of the dubious charges and Egypt will work towards democracy. 


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