Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Gambia Press Union to celebrate World Press Freedom Day today

GPU President
The Gambia Press Union (GPU) has announced that it will observe the 2011 World Press Freedom Day on Tuesday May 3 at the Tango Conference Hall in Kanifing starting 1600GMT.
The Day, which will be observed under a global theme “21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers” will take a form of presentations and discussions. A presentation on the theme will be delivered by Mr. George Christensen, Proprietor Radio 1 FM in Banjul; “A Legal and Regulatory Perspective: Better Protection for Freedom of Expression in the Age of Digital Communications” by Mr. Almamy Taal, Lawyer and CEO Real Time Consulting; and “New Trends of Journalism: News Business Models, Media Ownership, and Preserving Editorial Independence” by Mr. Cherno Jallow, Media Consultant.

Over the years, press freedom and free expression have come under attack in The Gambia, leaving the country to continue grabbing front page headlines for the wrong reasons.
Violations of press freedom have been lowered in 2010 and 2011 if not for the continued disappearance of the pro-Government newspapers journalists, Chief Ebrima Manneh; the unresolved murder of Omar Barrow and Deyda Hydara and the harassment of sport journalists at the Stadium.
This year, only one journalist (Sports Producer and Presenter for West Coast Radio, Bakary B. Baldeh) has been put trial by Gambian police for hosting aggrieved golf-workers during a February 11 sports programme.
However, a twist in events last year, seemingly brought renewed hopes that the Union’s efforts to achieve press freedom may not be a far fetched factor, following the Government’s acceptance to send a representative to grace and participate in the 2010 Press Freedom Day celebrations for the first time ever.
With a call for dialogue by the Government extended to Media Chiefs of Independent Newspapers in March 2011, though the meeting seemed not to realize its objective due to a defensive approach on the side of government, it is believed that the realization of a free press is in the making gradually.
The onus now lies on both sides to call for a follow up to the March Meeting to go a step further. It is the greatest opportunity offered to Media Chiefs to take the bull by the horn to take the next step without waiting on the executive, in order to convince them that their demands are legitimate and is the case in other African countries and, that “we are not only partners in development, we are also guided by common objectives to achieve the best for our country as well”.
“A minute silence in honour of journalists who have lost their lives on the line of duty,” will be observed the GPU said.
The main journalists’ body added that an opening remark will be delivered on behalf of GPU President Ndey Tapha Sosseh; remarks by the Secretary General National Commission for UNESCO Mrs. Sukai Bojang; and a statement by the Hon Minister for Information and Communication Infrastructure Mr. Alhagie Cham.

“This year’s World Press Freedom Day also marks the 20th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration for the promotion of free and pluralistic media. The Declaration was adopted after a conference held in Windhoek (Namibia) on the development of a free African press,” UNESCO said on Friday. 

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