The OJ-Kerr Fatou suit: A threat to Press freedom?

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The media is said to be the fourth estate in a democracy. Thus, a free press is an essential part of the governance process in a democratic state. The Press has a very crucial role to play in the development of a nation. One can even say that without a free press there will not be any form of development.

The press should have the ability, the space and the courage to investigate, report, question, interrogate and analyse any or all given situations that have to do with the government and its agencies. When this happens, the government is held in check and the little gaps that can – and do – happen within the system of checks and balances, the three arms of government; the executive, the judiciary and the legislature, checking each other, can be filled by the press.

Any form of attack against this – freedom of the press – should be fought with all the right means at the disposal of citizens in a democratic state. The people in a country should appreciate the fact that it is the freedom of the press that stands between them and that monster called corruption, abuse of power, malfeasance and all the other evils that can come about due to the selfish nature of man.

Thus, citizens should understand that the issue of press freedom must be protected at all cost from all forms of attack on it, be that by politicians suing media houses or restraining the press from doing its job or using any means.

Many people have decried the case between OJ, former minister of Agriculture and the Kerr Fatou News outlet as having the potential to snout the media into self-censorship. This will not augur well for our nascent democracy.

Of course, no one is disputing OJ’s right to sue if he feels aggrieved; but, being a politician who wants Gambians to vote him/his party into office, the best court he should have approached is the court of public opinion.

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. (Evelyn Beatrice Hall)