|Modou S. Joof, News Editor of The Voice newspaper, Banjul, The Gambia|
The North Bank Evening Standard has just gathered that the Banjul-based African Commission on Human and People's Rights has granted "Observer Status" to the Gambia Press Union (GPU) about an hour ago.
The Gambia Press Union applied for observer status under the ARTICLE 19/GPU European Commission-funded project.
"This means that one of the core objectives of our common project has been reached," said Mr. MENZAN BRUNO Programme Assistant ARTICLE 19, on Wednesday. "Congratulation to you all who worked towards the attainment of this objective."
He added: "We hope GPU will take full advantage of this status which allows the GPU to make statements at the Commission sessions."
Reacting to the news, Mr. Modou S. Joof, News Editor of The Voice newspaper, said “the approval and granting of observer status to the GPU is a remarkable achievement for the Union.”
“It is another milestone in the history of the Union and if taken seriously, it will step up efforts on the campaign for free expression and of the press by the Union,” said Mr. Joof, who is also the President of the Young Journalists Association of The Gambia (YJAG). “This observer status will give the GPU the platform to speak for their membership and relay to the Commission cases of violations of press freedom in The Gambia.”
The Article19/GPU project is part of a year capacity building programme supported by the 9th European Development Fund for Non-State Actors Strengthening Programme in The Gambia. It is intended to strengthen the capacity of Gambia media practitioners to deepen their understanding of freedom of expression standards and enhance their ability to contribute to democratic and economic governance in The Gambia.
The first phase of the project, a training for 20 Gambia journalists on "International Standards on Freedom of Expression" has already been completed. 12 participants have been selected to partake on further training on "Safety and Security for Journalists".
The African Commission is currently holding its 50th Ordinary Session in Banjul, which will last for two weeks. It started on Monday October 24, 2011.
On the sidelines of the 50th Ordinary Session, the Commission gathered African experts on Friday October 21, for a three day consultation workshop focusing on how to implement and monitor the “Human Rights Strategy for Africa" (HRSA), as part of efforts to strengthen the African human rights system, to deepen the culture of democracy and to ensure the promotion of human rights on the continent. The experts are expected to develop a roadmap for the implementation of the action plan of the HRSA.
This was preceded by another three day "Forum on the Participation of Non-governmental Organisations’ in the 50th Ordinary Session of the African Commission" which ended on October 21. Discussions were centered on a variety of topical issues, including the current Human Rights Situation on East, West, North, South and Central Africa.