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Thursday, May 23, 2024

May 3 reflections, honouring contributions ofjournalist victims, friends of Gambian media

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Wednesday, May 3, 2023 marked the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day with the global theme, shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of Expression as a driver for all other human rights.

As a journalist, I have always believed that all other rights are intrinsically linked to the right to express oneself.  This year’s theme falls in line with principles I have tried to uphold over the past 24 years.  At the start of my journalism career as a cub reporter in 1998, I did not articulate it.   Then, I was no activist or human rights defender.  Yet, I had this innate urge to give a platform, a voice to the Gambian women who in my view, would not be seen, heard or invited to the discussion table, if people like me, with a recorder, camera, pen and notepad did not give them a platform to tell their side of the story.   Several colleagues, who saw me as an ‘uppity cub reporter’, born in Banjul and raised within the Greater Banjul Area more specifically, Bakau, Fajara and Kanifing thought I would burn out even before the end of the first lap.  They had no inkling and little did they then know that my driving force was my strong desire to give visibility and a voice to the many rural women who were working so hard to develop themselves, their families and communities and yet remained unnoticed and marginalised.

With the encouragement and support of my news editor, DA Jawo, I started my first column Women in Development at the Daily Observer, in 1999.  Through this, I met women farmers, alkalolu (village heads), teachers and head teachers, health care workers whose conditions remain very much the same today as it was then.   Even though I was not given logistical support by the office to travel up-country I had enough family support that facilitated these fact-finding missions to the rural areas.  Through their network of colleagues and friends my mother Adelaide Sosseh and second mother Angela Lette were able to provide all the support I needed to travel up country safely to do my assignment.  It was an eye-opener for me having lived all my life in the urban areas with short trips up country with my mother when she went on official missions.  Through my eyes I was able to bring to the public domain the real-life experiences of the rural woman in agriculture, horticultural production, access to land, marital rights, access to education, health care.  The challenges they faced and their achievements and what their needs were. All of these were tied to other rights such as their reproductive health rights and economic rights which they could not articulate as they did not have the space and or platform to freely express them.  My column gave them the space to freely express themselves on other aspects of their rights. The women’s narratives showed their resilience to facing many challenges which served as obstacles to accessing their basic human rights.  Thus, I concur with the global theme that indeed freedom of expression is a driver for all other human rights.

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Fidelity leader board

Over time, I just grew to expect that whatever it was that I accepted to be my rights then I had the moral obligation to advocate for these at all costs for others to benefit from, hence pushing me towards activism.   Between 2005 to 2009, I became an active participant in activities that promoted human rights either as an organiser, panelist or resource person.

In my various roles as a reporter, editor, secretary general and president of the Gambia Press Union, from 1998 to 2008, but mainly between 2005 and 2008, I was at the helm of national and local activities to celebrate World Press Freedom Day refusing categorically any participation outside The Gambia to ensure that the Day was celebrated in grand style, yet not missing out on the solemnness of the event.  From 2005, May 3 was always an occasion to celebrate the life of Deyda Hydara and to call on the then Jammeh regime to respond to questions about who killed Deyda and about the whereabouts of Chief Ebrima Manneh. The day provided the opportunity to discuss the plight of journalists, media workers within the then stifling environment making, reporting commenting, discussing and sharing of ideas a difficult, painful, traumatic and uncomfortable experience for Gambian journalists, their families and associates.

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From Day One, when I joined the Daily Observer Newspaper in June 1998, I learnt about the human rights abuses journalists in The Gambia were subjected to. I heard stories of exiled, detained, tortured and deported journalists.  Later, I was around when my then News Editor DA Jawo and Editor in Chief Baba Galleh Jallow, were called for questioning. I witnessed the arrest, detention and questioning of Gheran Senghore, a journalist for having written an article on The State House Wall.  The offensive article was about a wall which fell exposing the military paraphernalia and other security details that he saw.  This warranted his arrest and detention in the mosquito infested NIA detention center.  To date I remember him recounting to me the number of mosquitos that would feast on his skin.

I also remember the first edition of the Sunday Observer. Sheriff Bojang, Editor in Chief and I worked tirelessly for several weeks editing, proposing columnists just to ensure it came out with a bang.  An excellent satirical writer, Sheriff’s column attracted readers of all generations. I particularly enjoyed Dial O for Observer and all the chit chat that came after it.  An infotainment paper, The Sunday Observer, was an unrivalled hit.

Later, as Editor in Chief, reporters asked several times if I was sure that if they wrote a particular story, it would be published.  Never one to self-censor, I encouraged them at all times to write stories, as factually as they could, leaving no room for opinion and or comment.  This was no guarantee that we (the reporter and I) would not get into trouble but in my naivety at the time, I believed that speaking the truth and remaining as close to reality as possible was an argument that would untangle us from any situation.

The Point Newspaper was situated on the Bakau New Town Road and this was my route from home to the Daily Observer. I had developed a healthy competition with The Point even though I looked on Deyda Hydara, co-proprietor and managing editor as my uncle.  Every time I drove past The Point on my way home and saw Uncle Deyda’s Mercedez Benz parked in front of the premises I would first celebrate that yes, I had wrapped up before them, before the dreary anticipation of who had a better headline and whose paper would sell out first the next day.

Deyda was a headline genius and also a brilliant writer and The Point was no easy match.  As a young, ambitious editor, I saw this healthy competition with The Point as key to developing myself fast, and setting my own standards and that of the Newspaper higher, every day.  To this end, I had managed to convince reporters and my sub editors Malick Mboob, PK Jarju, to start digging (pushing ourselves towards investigating stories) in order to have as much breaking news stories as possible for our headlines to surpass The Point.

Imagine the shock I got when on the morning of December 16, 2004, my Managing Director, Sherrif Bojang came knocking at our family house gates to inform me that Deyda was shot dead.  Worried because he could not reach me over the phone, he came over to see if I got home safely the night before. It was unbelievable, as just a few hours earlier, the previous night; I was rejoicing that I had beaten Uncle Deyda in finishing earlier than him.  In spite of the fear and trauma I felt, I volunteered to go with him when he informed me, he was on his way to the Mortuary.   His empathetic NO was so definite that I just went back inside to hurriedly get ready for work.

The rest of the day passed in a flurry of phone calls, hurriedly organized emergency editor and GPU meetings which resulted in the decision to have a media blackout and a meeting between media chiefs and the National Security Council and then VP Isatou Njie Saidy.  My stance on Deyda’s death led to my suspension and eventual sacking from the Daily Observer (seen then to be pro-government).  This also led to my quick ascension within the GPU.) The events are still blurry as everything happened too fast and was too brutal.  What is clear however, is that almost twenty years on, I would still take the same decisions that I had taken on that fateful day and difficult period for Gambian journalists. This was going to determine the course of my life as from then onwards my life would never be the same.

As an exiled journalist (2009-2016) but also an employee of the West African Journalists Association (WAJA) I ensured that all my energies were focused on organizing activities related to the safety of Journalists in Africa.  This was done in collaboration with key partners like my Malian hosts UNAJOM and the Maison de la Presse du Mali, other regional media organisations like the Federation of African Journalists (of which I was elected as the first Treasurer of the first executive committee in 2008 and went on to serve another term of three years), The African Editors Forum of which Deyda Hydara was a founding member, the International Federation of Journalists in which my predecessor Madi Ceesay served as an Ex Com member and I a Gender Council member. At such events we always put the plight of Gambian journalists and the state of the media in The Gambia center stage of the regional and global events to mark the day.  I also had the opportunity to participate in high level panels in New York, Addis Ababa, Johannesburg and Abuja focusing on the safety of journalists in Africa thus always ensuring that the issues were on the front burner.

Difficult as exile was (in terms of freedom of movement and having to make choices on where to go for safety reasons, inability to access travel documents) I have always maintained that I never saw myself as a victim.  I remember hearing Refugee Sur Place for the first time in June 2009 from renowned lawyer, activist Prof Chidi Odinkalu then Chair of the Nigerian Human Rights Commission.  When I explained my plight to him, indicating that I was now living in Bamako due to a letter I had written as President of The Gambia Press Union to the President of The Gambia asking questions about the death of Deyda Hydara and that six (6) of my colleagues were in prison at the time and that the Government of The Gambia was actively trying to get me to face prosecution.  Like other legal minds, he advised that my advocacy on the matter was more beneficial to my colleagues and myself than my going back to face the law.   Prof. Chidi advised that since I had left the left The Gambia as a free individual, I should not return to face prosecution on the basis of an open letter to President Jammeh.   The trip, part of an Amnesty International/ Media Foundation for West Africa campaign to highlight the state of Press Freedom in The Gambia included a media component and we were invited to various TV panels, the ECOWAS Commission and Parliament, the Nigeria Human Rights Commission and various entities working in and interested in Press Freedom in The Gambia including the Media Agenda and International Press Centre in Lagos.  I travelled with representatives from the two organizations including my friend Ayodele Ameen of Amnesty International, with me as the face of the campaign (having just joined the long list of exiled Gambian journalists for my open letter addressed to Yahya Jammeh).

Inconvenient as exile was for most, I am grateful that for me it led to a fulfilled career, enhancing my public speaking capacities, exposing me to travels across the world thus enriching my observation and narration skills (much needed for a journalist), that I learned a new language and founded a family based on strong values.  Exile made me see the best of my immediate and extended family, where some members, particularly my grandaunt Sarah Goddard Joof, openly took risks to visit, to call and to attend court cases on the ground.  I was proud of where I came from and the person that I grew up in exile – more composed, more mature, more tolerant.

Exile also pushed me into accepting that my role as a journalist need not be limited to that of just reporting.  That I could actually be a militant, an activist and a journalist all in one, encouraged me to join Coalition for Change the Gambia set up by Amadou Scattered Janneh and others. Scattered and myself became friends after the National Security Council meeting with the then VP on the day of Deyda’s death. He was minister of Information and Communication at the time and we developed mutual respect for each other due to the positions that we took in that closed door meeting.  After his sacking as Minister and questioning by the NIA, I was one of the first people that Scattered called and visited to update on his new status.  When he set up the Coalition for Change with colleagues including Mathew Jallow and Famara Demba, I was already in exile.  In encouraging me to join, he told me that the Coalition needed visibility in Africa to enhance the work that they were doing in the Diaspora and asked if I could contribute to work that was being done by other CCG members in the Diaspora    Activities of the CCG led to the arrest and detention of Scattered. He was arrested and charged with treason for having printed T Shirts with the slogan End to Dictatorship Now in May 2011. Matthew Jallow, Famara Demba and I were also charged along with him but happily I was out of the jurisdiction of the country and escaped imprisonment. This was the second time that I was in conflict with law in The Gambia for very serious charges of sedition and treason.  Instead of silencing me, the charges, if anything, increased my determination to stand up and speak up for human rights, especially Freedom of Expression. Together with Banka Manneh, Mathew Jallow, and others, we agreed to form another coalition of diaspora CSOs, the Civil Society Associations Gambia.   Banka’s courage and unflinching support were needed during this period.  I was in possession of certain information which I could not make public in my name without risking the safety of Scattered and every time that I sought his advice, he ensured the information got out.  We were an excellent team and raised funds, used our own resources and took on cases for Gambians that we never knew, had no relations with just on the basis that their human rights were not respected.

My personal safety and security were always high on the agenda of my global family. This was even more apparent when the Malian government stood firm in ignoring the extradition efforts of The Gambia Government through the then Foreign Minister, Momodou Tangara.  Verbal Complaints that I was using Mali as a base to destabilize the Government of The Gambia were countered with a request for it to be formalized in writing which was never done.  The Malian government’s position was that the information they had was that I was a journalist working in Mali as a staff of West African Journalists Association.

From Mali to Zimbabwe the threats continued. Arriving in Zimbabwe for an African Capacity Building Foundation meeting in February 2012, I was detained at the airport with the intention of deporting me back to The Gambia on the grounds that I was wanted in The Gambia. Again, my network of friends within Zimbabwe and globally intervened to make sure that it did not happen and the Zimbabwean authorities instead allowed me to fly back to Mali. The harassment did not stop with me. Reprisals were made against family members with the hope that this would stop me. Ransacking of my mother’s house in January 2021, even though scary did not serve as a deterrent as she herself was a human rights defender and knew the importance of human rights advocacy.

Today as we celebrate 30 years of World Press Freedom Day, I reflect on what has transpired over this period and ask if I have any regrets.  I say No and would do things the same all over again.  It is sad that some people like Deyda Hydara have lost their lives and Chief Manneh has disappeared and Michael Uche who himself not an activist has by association with persons fighting for fundamental rights and freedoms died in prison. Their memories live on and serve as a reminder that human rights can never be compromised. The unjust imprisonment of the GPU Six – GPU Secretary General, Vice President and Treasurer Bai Emil Touray, Sarata Jabbi-Dibba and Pa Modou Faal respectively, Sam Sarr Foroyaa Editor and The Point Newspaper’s Managing Editor Pap Saine, and editor Ebrima Sawaneh were charged with sedition and criminal defamation of the President. Sarata, a breastfeeding mum at the time, had her 8-month-old son Baby Mohamed detained for a few days in the Women’s Wing of the Mile II Central Prisons.  And, several other Gambian journalists, the torture and trauma that the media fraternity in The Gambia had gone through we have lived to tell the story.  For this I am grateful to the Almighty Allah.

For me personally the gains exceed the sacrifices. It has been a period of learning and of seeing the best and worst sides of human nature. More importantly, exile exploded my family into a global one. The consistency, courage, empathy and endurance of my global family contributed to my safety in all situations.  And, the recognition I have received from my peers, from more than 50 countries around the world, warms my heart. I cannot thank them enough for their friendship, loyalty and solidarity.  I established lifelong friendships with people, who for only hearing my story and that of colleagues in The Gambia, stood in solidarity with me and gave their support in all forms – emotional, financial, moral, physical and legal.  It cannot be quantified. As this year marks a special milestone for freedom of expression, I could not, after several years of intellectual and writing hibernation (for personal reasons), not single out specific members of my global family to celebrate in this milestone year.

The Gambia – My friend and uncle, Cherno Jallow, GPU administrator at the time that I joined journalism; Demba A Jawo my editor, boss and friend; Sam Sarr, editor of Foroyaa Newspaper, the late Swaebou Conateh founder of The Gambia News and Report; the late George Christensen proprietor of Radio 1FM; the late social commentator Bijou Peters; the late GPU Treasurer Pa Modou Faal, who regularly reached out at great risk to himself; Buya Jammeh who remained loyal and resilient during hard times for him as an exile; the family of the late Deyda Hydara in particular Aunty Maria and Marie Pierre for their friendship and resilience in the face of adversity;  Madi Jobarteh and Saptieu Jobe for their numerous articles in defense of me; Jeggan Grey Johnson for facilitating high profile meetings; Demba Baldeh, Gainako newspaper; Banka Manneh; Ambassador Essa Bokarr Sy and to the several friends of the Gambian media who sent me private and public messages.

Senegal –  My sister and friend Fatou Jagne Senghore then Director Article 19 West Africa Office in Dakar; Diatou Cisse, then SG of WAJA and Syndicat des professionals de l’information et de la communication du Sénégal (Synpics); Big brother Madiambal Diagne, former president of Union de la Presse Francophone (UPF) and founder of Avenir Communications; My friend, Journalist and Minister Abdou Latif Coulibaly; the late Alpha Sall, former secretary general SYNPICS and my former coordinator at WAJA; Alioune Tine Afrikajom Centre then of RADDHO, Didier Awadi, musician and activist, Professor Oumar Ndongo then Executive secretary of West African Civil Society Forum and his board members across West Africa; and members of the Y’en a Marre activist group.

Mali – Apanga Idrissa Dolo and wife Ina for their loyalty and friendship; Mme Kone Ouleimatou Diallo and her mother, my Malian mother, Assetou Diakhite; My host, brother and friend Hameye Cisse, founder of Journal Le Scorpion and member of the High Communications Authority; the late Makan Kone, former president Maison de la Presse and Secretary general TAEf; Ibrahim Famakan Coulibaly (president UNAJOM and members of his executive at the time; Assetou Thora Keita, my first personal assistant in Mali who not only helped me settle at the office but was central in ensuring I found safe, appropriate housing; Ramata Diaoure, Member of the CNT, then editor and gender trainer; Journalist and nephew Sidi Elmehdi Ag Elbaka; Dado Camara and Marietou Konate founders of l’Annonceur, the first woman owned newspaper in Mali; journalist Amadou Maiga and his wife Naffie; Lawyer  Mamadou Ismaila Konate, former Justice Minister and former PM and ex-Foreign Minister Moctar Ouane (and his entire cabinet at the Foreign Ministry); the late ‘Gilbert’ Maiga, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Communications for the assistance in supporting WAJA led initiatives including  agreeing to issue documentation for the temporary hosting of journalists in distress from The Gambia and Niger.


What is special about Sudanese Education?

Nation building & demands of citizenship ~ by Fredrick Nwabufo

And they claim Buhari didn’t do anything ~ by Femi Adesina

Burkina Faso – My friend, brother, confidant Cherif SY, journalist, founder member TAEF, former speaker and former Minister of Defense; Abdoulaye Diallo coordinator of the CNP-NZ, editor and CENOZO founder member Boureima Oudreagou, Jean Paul Meda.

Ghana – My pro-bono lawyer, friend and supporter Akoto Ampaw (Akufo Addo, Prempeh and Co. Chambers) then Board member MFWA; Prof Kwame Karikari (MFWA and team), the late journalist, Professor Doris Yaa Dartey whose beautiful smile and encouragements could push one to win any battle, Bright Blewu of the Ghana Journalists Association;

Nigeria – My Wali, Shuhaibu Usman Leman, national secretary general of the Nigerian Union of Journalists; Mohamed Garba former president Nigeria Union of Journalists, WAJA  and FAJ;  Edetean Ojo  founder Media Rights Agenda, former board member MFWA, IFEX (Edet was the first to give me a year’s communications grant as early as August 2009); Lanre  Arogundade, International Press Institute; Dapo Olorunyomi, publisher Premium Times; Sunny Ugoh acting director of the ECOWAS Commission’s Communication’s Department  and, my brother, friend and HURIDAC executive director Ayodele Ameen whom I met years earlier whilst I was still in The Gambia  (we became friends whilst he was in detention in The Gambia); and Dr Jibo Jibrin Ibrahim of the CDD.

South African media Guru Mathata Tsedu, then deputy chief executive, SABC News and first chairperson of The African Editors Forum;  Emblematic Benin media figure and author, the late Maurice Chabi, member of TAEF and founder of Les Echos newspaper;  Sy Mamadou, founder L’Eveil Hebdo  and president of the Rassemblement de la Presse Mauritanienne; the BBCs Umaru Fofana, then president of Sierra Leone Journalists Association; Dalatou Mamane, Mamadou Kandeh, Brice Houssou and Credo Tetteh presidents of the journalist associations of Niger, Guinea Bissau, Benin and Togo respectively and WAJA board members at the time; Patricia Adjisseku secretary general of the Union des journalistes indépendants du Togo (UJIT), Alain Yero Embalo, investigative journalist and RFI correspondent Bissau and my first CENOZO Board Chairperson; Zied El Heni (Tunisia), the late Foster Dongozi (Zimbabwe) and  Gustave Azebaze (Cameroun) FAJ and IFJ Executive members;  Hassan Shire and Joseph Bikanda of the African Human Rights Defenders Network (PahrdNet, Uganda).

My huge West African and African family pushed and pulled to get me political and media appointments, sought me public speaking engagements, invited me to national and regional media and free expression events, fought to host me in their homes, pay hotel bills and who’s office space I would use for press conferences, who’s car I would use, who would host me for lunch, asking for nothing in return.  Had I not been exiled, I would not have seen this other aspect of solidarity, which goes beyond issuing press releases and making statements.  Friends offered their time, skills, and resources, stood by and stood tall with me, wanting to be seen to fight a dictatorship and to use their capacities to freely express themselves to highlight the rights abuses of Gambians at home. At all times, assisted in organizing press conferences, jumped on planes to meet in cities where we organized protests, made TV, Radio and newspaper appointments, took on pro bono legal my cases and others that I brought to them which had nothing to do with journalism (case of the slain Mile II) inmates

My family of African women journalists has far outgrown my network of friends of journalists and freedom of expression activists.  I cannot start listing you my special sister warriors but to you, my hundreds of friends, co trainers and trainees from Cape Verde to Chad, The Gambia to Gabon, Liberia to Lesotho, Senegal to South Africa, Guinea to Equatorial Guinea, Morroco to Mozambique, Nigeria to Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, I say, – the fight continues! La lutte continue! A la luta continua!

Outside Africa Wolfgang Mayer (through the German Union of Journalists) paid for several years of 24 hours security following a FAJ meeting in Abuja during which I was declared wanted by the Jammeh regime.  Wolfgang and other colleagues from Europe were so worried and feared for my safety should I try to embark a plane to Bamako he sought a meeting with the German ambassador in Abuja and strongly encouraged me to accept immediate asylum support to Germany, with the promise of getting my 5-year-old son (in Bamako at the time) support to join me.  I appreciated the gesture very much but truly I could not see myself taking up refugee status in Europe. I preferred to live and work in Africa which was nearer home and which made it easier for family members and friends to visit without all the issues associated with visa processes.  Besides   I saw no reason why I should continue running because Jammeh and his cohorts were uncomfortable with my positions and views and wanted to silence me. In spite of the fact that I was declared a wanted person I would not be intimidated into running.   Years down the line, Wolfgang invited me to give a talk in Nuremburg where I stayed with his friends, journalist and political editor of the Nuremburg Times, Georg Escher and his wife Dawn.  They have since maintained contact sending yearly updates of their family and work lives.

The IFJ Africa Office director at the time Gabriel Baglo and current director, my brother Louis Thomasi had the full support of the Brussels Office and executive in particular then President Jim Boumelhia and SG Beth Costa to assist in coordinating support for and to enhance visibility for my activities all with a view to using our loud network of unbroken voices to bring attention to the plight of Gambian journalists and the state of the media in The Gambia. They never once failed to issue a solidarity statement in support of the Gambia Press Union or any of its members who were targeted by the state.

My friend Eva Stabell of the Norsk Journalist lag (Norwegian Union of Journalists) who gave support to the WAJA Capacity Building Project through their International Office and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign affairs to a Women Journalists (Women Reporting Women) Project that I proposed to her in 2014, at the end of the three years, we had trained dozens of Trainers and targeted hundreds of other women journalists in all of the ECOWAs member states.  Further, in partnership with the IFJ, the Norsk Journalist lag globalized the project targeting all the Middle East and other Africa regions and sent to me to South Africa, Malawi, and Senegal several times as a trainer.   For her indefatigable efforts towards strengthening journalists across the world, her energy and high sense of accountability, Eva remains a role model to date.  Through this project, women journalists were retrained to look into other issues affecting women including the absence of their basic rights which again links to this year’s theme.  We, women journalists used our possibilities to freely express ourselves, to raise the voices of other invisible, silent, gagged women giving them a platform to be heard.

Between 2017 and 2018, with support from Article 19, I supported DA Jawo, the then Minister of Information and Communications Infrastructure as special adviser on media related matters with a specific focus on reforms.  During this period, I served as multi sectorial committee co-chair that sought to promote Government led initiatives to promote respect for the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms by improving the state of media freedoms in The Gambia. I am convinced that the marked improvement in global press freedom rankings, improving almost a hundred points from 145th position in 2016 (final year of Jammeh’s tyranny towards the media) to 46th in 2023 is largely hinged on vision of MOICI at the time, to put the media at the helm of the transition post Jammeh.   Much of this I credit, to enormous efforts that DA Jawo as minister at the time made towards opening of the space for the media.  Beyond the behind-the-scenes efforts, DA used his position to encourage tolerance towards divergent views, including in the national broadcaster networks, granting of the first private TV Licence and a few other licences within the first year of the transition, explosion of private radio networks, regular press briefings and convivial meetings with the press and other communications actors.  Many would not have been that confident to take such a huge step within such a short time.  Bravo DA.

Jammeh’s departure in January 2017 promised meaningful change. The promised change is yet to be translated into concrete realities.  Freedom of the Press in spite of the passing of the Access to Information Bill is still a challenge. Though The Gambia is still standing the transition has been bitter sweet, no violence against the media but no major, marked steps that will lead us to emancipation and self-reliance as a nation.  The Smile on the face of Smiling Coast of The Gambia is yet to widen up.

For this year’s theme to remain relevant for us in The Gambia, we, Gambian journalists must be able to seize the opportunity that the UN Human Rights Council initiatives offer and be that driver to underline the crucial connections between free media, safety of journalists and the enjoyment of other rights.

Therefore, I call on today’s generation of reporters and newsmen and women to highlight the very many stories that reflect the socio-economic realities of an upward daily struggle for survival, high cost of living, low salaries of public servants including teachers, health care workers, security personnel, access to quality basic services-education, health, information; women’s participation in leadership and sexual gender-based violence.

The issues are many but for The Gambia to survive as a nation and in contributing to shaping our own future of rights, we, Gambian journalists, must be able to use our new found freedoms to be the drivers for all other human rights in The Gambia.

Long live freedom of Expression

Long live media solidarity and support networks

Long live human rights defenders

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