Friday, September 24, 2010

“Deyda, Press Freedom, Access to Information, Democracy and Good Governance” - Comments

“Audience Express Concern on the Issues of Press Freedom”
VOL:1 ISSN:22 A Symposium to mark the 5th Anniversary of the Assassination of Deyda Hydara, organised by the Gambia Press Union (GPU) at the TANGO Hall, Kanifing, brought together people from all walks of life, predominantly dominated by media personnel, where various people commented on the burning issues above.

Veteran Journalist and Proprietor of Gambia News and Report Magazine, Swaebou Conateh laments that the Gambia Radio and Television Services speaks with one voice and others from the private press cannot have access to it, arguing that the television and the radio meant for all of us.

For the print media, we need to unite for the sake of development, we are very much divided and some of us are informers. Stick to the ethics of the profession; let all of us leave this hall thinking about our situation and to be like other journalists in other parts of the world. “Freedom of expression is important, that was what Deyda stood for and today he is a shining example for all Gambian journalists to follow suit, journalism is free, we should be free,” he stressed.

Omar Jallow alias OJ of the Peoples Progressive Party said that they are going to celebrate Deyda’s death for what he has achieved. “Some people have lived for 800 years but they are death and forgotten.”

He stressed that it is a shame that 97 percent of those present at the symposium were journalists. “Where are our allies, government, civil society organisations, and individuals,” he said, adding that most of whom without the press their institutions are worthless.

He said that if Gambia claims to be democratic, there cannot be any democracy without a free press. We fought for independence and sent colonial masters parking saying that we want freedom, but today some of us are more comfortable in European cities or America than in Africa. “It is a Shame.”

For her part, Amie Bojang Sissoho, Programme Officer Gambia Committee against Harmful Traditional (GAMCOTRAP) stressed that unless the pubic realise that the media is working in their interest, we will continue to see situations where the public distance themselves from media grievances. “Unless and until we realise that what we are doing is not for others but for our concerns people will continue to censor themselves and that is why there are many rumors spreading in the country because there is no freedom of the press.

“If public officers think that what they are doing is for them then they are not at their conscience,” she said.

The doyen of Gambian Journalism, Ba Trawally stated that freedom is the base of everything that we are talking about. He said that democracy; rule of law, good governance is all derived from the word freedom. “I am not addressing you, I am addressing the nation,” he argued in a strong tone.

He said that freedom is not given on a silver plate; it should be demanded, fought for and exercised.

The programme was held on Wednesday 16th December, 2009.

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