Thursday, July 7, 2011

Journalism suffered the most atrocities in the world

Outgoing GPU President Ndey Tapha Sosseh
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  • Gambia ranked lowest on press freedom scale in West Africa



Journalism suffered the most atrocities in the world



From 1991 to 2011, a number of 129 journalists have been killed and none of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes has been successfully brought to book, according to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).


This compelled the outgoing President of The Gambia Press Union Ms Ndey Tapha Sosseh to stress that “journalism is the only profession in the world to have suffered the most atrocities”. Most of the crimes committed against journalists are largely perpetrated by governments and in some cases by individuals and organisations that are close to governments.



Her statement was read on her behalf by Mr Louis Thomasi, IFJ Africa Office during the Triennial Congress of The Gambia Press Union, June 24-26, on the “Safety and Security of Journalists; Press freedom and political pressure; Engagement of the Union in the public debate on democratisation and reform.”


The congress, funded by the International Federation of journalists (IFJ) was held at the Gambia Telecommunication Multimedia Institute in the Kanifing Municipality under the theme “Strengthening the GPU: A detailed analysis of the past, current situation, actions to confront challenges”.


She said journalists are targeted mainly because they expose corruption and human rights violations which may not go down well with the governments and people involved.


Ms Sosseh said the guarantee of free expression in Africa has not been realised, however, there been some improvements, citing Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s historic effort of signing into law the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill in 2010. With Nigeria following suite this year by putting in place an FOI law.


She noted that similar laws have been tabled before law makers in Ghana and Sierra Leone.




Working conditions


On an “Analysis of survey on Working Conditions of Journalists in The Gambia; Collective Bargaining Efforts; What has been done, what needs to be done”, Bai Emil Touray, the former Secretary General and now President of the GPU admits that there is no survey on the working conditions of Gambian journalists.


He stress the need for the GPU to work in line with the ECOWAS collective bargaining provisions and hire a consultant to conduct a survey on the working conditions of journalists in The Gambia.


This survey will help in addressing the prevalence of low remunerations, better working conditions and the social security of journalists and the provision of contract agreements between employers and employees.


He noted that the GPU executive have earlier on embarked on a campaign to discuss with media chiefs about the plight of journalists with a view to increasing the earnings of journalists.


With this intervention, though their demands for salaries of Editors, Subeditors and reporters to be set at D4000, D3500, and D2000 respectively, there have been some improvements, while the GPU payments for freelancers is set at D120 for a front page article, D90 for a back page story and D70 for an inside story.


Regardless of the efforts of the Union, it is unarguable that media chiefs have evidently fall short of meeting the expectation of their workers and the GPU tariffs, thus leaving many to resort to gathering soft news where they would earn a little, while investigative journalism dying gradually.


Gambia ranked lowest on press freedom scale in West Africa



Mr Menzan Bruno, a Consultant at Article 19 West Africa Office in Dakar, Senegal over the weekend noted that The Gambia is ranked by press freedom watchdogs as the worst violator of press freedom in West African sub-region.


Mr. Bruno was presenting a paper on GPU/Article 19 EU project, the raison d’ĂȘtre under the topic Capacity Deficit; Impact of Partner Intervention at the three days Triennial Congress of the Gambia Press Union (GPU) from June 24 – 26, 2011.


The congress, funded by the International Federation of journalists (IFJ) was held at the Gambia Telecommunication Multimedia Institute in the Kanifing Municipality under the theme “Strengthening the GPU: A detailed analysis of the past, current situation, actions to confront challenges”.


“Gambian journalist work under dangerous environment and the safety and security of journalists remains a grave concern since the murder of Deyda Hydara,” Bruno said.


On the project between the GPU and Article 19, an international human rights institution, he said it is aimed at building the capacity of journalists and journalist organizations to defend their rights to freedom of expression and protect themselves against censorship, prosecution.


The project, which involves courses on “International Standards on Freedom of Expression” and “The Safety and Security of Journalists”, is funded by the European Union.


Mr Bruno adds that the project is aimed at engaging the government, civil society and other key actors in dialogue about Gambia’s international obligations in protecting and protecting freedom of expression.


“It also aimed to increase the quality of national and international warnings about freedom of expression in The Gambia and also partakes to represent the beneficiaries need, this is because the action is complimentary to the GPU efforts undertaken so far to safeguard, promote and protect professional journalism,” he explained.


The GPU executive has since identified capacity building and self-regulation as a top priority, and Bruno noted that Article 19 will be working with the Union along these lines to help Gambian journalists respond to the needs and challenges they are face with.


He explained that a number of advocacy programmes has been put in place by the two partners for the past years and Article 19 found it productive to initiate this project with GPU to consolidate its engagement in The Gambia.


  • Source: The Voice

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