Gambia’s president of the country’s main journalists’ body on May 3, 2012 reduces democracy to pointlessness wherein free expression is not extant.
“Democracy without freedom of expression is meaningless,” stressed Gambia Press Union, GPU, President, Bai Emil Touray, who described “freedom of expression as a fundamental pillar of any democracy.”
“Many Gambians are afraid to speak their minds for fear of been punished and we are urging the authorities to create the enabling environment for ordinary citizens to take part in the democratization process of the country,” he said on World Press Freedom Day.
He cited Section 25 of Gambia law, the 1997 Constitution, which guarantees the right to free expression.
This year’s celebration had three international themes, one of which is: “New voices, media freedom helping to transform societies.”
The GPU president argues that press freedom is more or less non existent in the Gambia, making it paramount to look into the draconian media laws affecting the fundamentals rights of citizens.
He challenges the Government to set media laws in line with parameters set by the United Nation Human Right Committee. “We call on Gambia Government to repeal all draconian media laws, so as to enable the country fall in line with international standard of good governance,” he said.
As journalists killed in the line of duty are remembered on world press freedom day, Emil Touray used the opportunity to keep in mind the late Sud FM journalist Omar Barrow who was shot dead by Gambia’s security forces in April 2000.
He also remembered the late Deyda Hydra, whose drive by shooting murder in 2004 remain unsolved, like wise the unexplained disappearance of Daily Observer journalist, Chief Ebrima Manneh since 2006.
He also called on the Government of President Yahya Jammeh to put in place a Freedom of Information Law (FOI), hence, the tiny West African nation is only English-speaking country in the sub-region without an FOI Act.
Source: The Voice