Press freedom will be my first target if I become president


Speaking to The Standard recently, Darboe, a lawyer, commented: “There is so much competition about what should be done. But one thing that we would definitely do first is to help the press be absolutely independent so that the general public will have free access to information.  For transparency to be in a society, that helps. It is not just going to be [freedom for] the print media, but for radios, TVs and the rest. They will be encouraged to design socio-political programmes where people from the ruling and opposition parties will be invited to discuss government policies. 

“The only thing is that irresponsible journalism… If you want to use your pen or radio station to create havoc on society, that will not be accepted anywhere in any part of the world. But to criticise some policies is good because that is what democracy is all about.  And I am sure  journalists will engage in constructive criticism as that is for the good of the nation. I have read about other political leaders in other places; how they have been running the affairs of their governments. Transparency is absolutely important,” he said. 

Asked about the position of women in a hypothetical UDP government, Mr Darboe quipped: “One thing is clear, we have a lot of good quality people in our party, including women who can do a better job.”


On the issues of youth and illegal migration, he called on the government to provide funds and encourage the youths to venture into aqua-culture. He said European governments should also lend a helping hand in curbing the high tide of the illegal migration. 

On the recent inconclusive visit by UN human rights investigators to Banjul, Mr Darboe commented: “A lot of people in the private sector could not talk to them because they feared if they talk to them, there would be repercussions. A lot of journalists could have spoken to them but maybe a lot of them did not. A lot of lawyers could have talked to them but I know most of them did not because they feared repression. The fact that they [government] refused them to visit the security wing of the prison is strong evidence that the rights of prisoners there are not being observed. The UN investigators should have spoken to those who were convicted of treason. They should have spoken to those people and they would have heard stories about torture.”

On the issue of homosexuality and the government’s recent enactment of severe anti-LBGT laws, the 66-year-old politician added: “Honestly in all my years, I have not come across anyone saying these are homosexuals or suspected homosexuals, not to talk of people of the same sex getting married or living together in this country. The truth is that they want to divert people’s attention from the real issues and started talking about homosexuality. International organisations like the UN and others are saying that the human rights records in The Gambia is poor; that it has to be improved. Those are the issues. But now the government want to impose moral standards on us just to divert people’s attention from the problems of the country. Homosexuality is not the problem of this country.”