Observer Closure Impairs Press Freedom

The Gambia Press Union has described the temporary closure of the Daily Observer as “regrettable” because it “impairs freedom of expression.”

The Union’s reaction to the Gambia  Revenue’s closure for accumulated tax arrears of over 17 million dalasis is published below.

The Gambia Press Union (GPU) is deeply concerned about the closure of the Daily Observer Company by the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA).

On Wednesday June 14, 2017, the GRA ordered the Daily Observer to cease operations with immediate effect.

The GPU has since engaged both the management of the Daily Observer and the senior management of GRA, including the Commissioner General, Yankuba Darboe.

The authorities at both GRA and Daily Observer have confirmed that the closure resulted from the newspaper’s failure to pay tax overtime.

However, the GPU is of the considered view that the closure of the Daily Observer is regrettable and impairs freedom of expression in The Gambia. 

While GRA might have acted within the country’s tax laws, the GPU urges the tax authorities to explore other ways of settling the matter.

Moreover, the Union believes that the impact of this measure by GRA is disproportionate as the harm that the closure causes to free expression and welfare of journalists outweigh the benefits.

The shutdown has rendered more than hundred media workers jobless and puts the company in a difficult position to respect its tax obligations.

While working to bring the two parties to dialogue and work out a realistic payment plan, the GPU is appealing to the GRA to allow the Daily Observer to resumes operations immediately.  

The Union also reminds The Gambia government of its obligations to create a favourable environment for freedom of expression, and therefore urges the government to as a matter of urgency move to review the tax regime imposed on the media in the country.


Secretary General, GPU 



  1. This is not GPU business in the first place. Payment of tax is a crime which is non-negotiable. Therefore, GPU ought to know its proper roles . Let the daily observer pay their taxes and register as independent, private newspaper. Not only the non-payment of tax is problematic but also the paper lack proper registration with the relevant authority. GPU failed to remind themselves that daily observer was an instrument of oppression in the last decade. Simply pay tax and stay operational. Freedom of expression is never free , therefore taxes are used to support and sustain freedom of expression and democracy values.

  2. How about refusal of a president and his cabinet ministers to declare their assets?How do revenue authorities tax undeclared assets?
    Hope setting the example with The Daily Observer is the very stepping stone for transparency in the new government.

    • Bourne , you are trying to mix apples and oranges here . Declaration of assets is not a constitutional requirement but paying tax is a lawful obligation on every business. Therefore, it doesn’t make any sense to compare the two at the moment.
      Yes , declaration of assets is a very good thing for the country because it will serves to promote transparency and I would suggest that we should even make it constitutional as part of economic reforms agenda in this new administration.

      • Are you not aware of the fact that Mr. Barrow was an established property developer prior to him being sworn in as president of the republic. Max, I am not trying to mix any orange with apples if not your dodginess that is aimed at portraying the lack of transparency of Barrow’s government as something constitutionally acceptable. I am not an expert with regards to constitutional provisions but logic and common sense tells me, its is ethical and transparent enough that Mr. Barrow and his cabinet ministers declare their assets with Barrow himself to be the most priority to doing so, for being an established businessman prior to becoming president of the Gambia.
        You mean, declaration of assets is not a constitutional requirement? I think that encourages citizens to be tax evaders, as undeclared businesses, which are assets too, are liable to become the most serious financial crimes issues in most places around the world, with the rule of law, as such businesses tend to be ‘hardshells’ to pull up in, when one desires to evade taxes. I think the constitution should be very shy of itself if it categorically stipulates that assets declaration is not a legal obligation on public figures and businesses.

        • Bourne , stop being dishonest and hypocritical in your foolish attempt to portray my view as supportive “of lack of transparency to be constitutionally accountable “. You have a problem of understanding simple English language. I have stated that declaration of assets is a good thing for the country because it will serves to promote transparency and I went further to say that we should make it constitutional as part of economic reforms agenda. Go over what I posted before you make false claims. As we speak , declaration of assets is not in the constitution and it will be good standard for sake of transparency for president Barrow and his cabinet to declare their assests . I totally welcome and support that idea . I hope you get this .

  3. Well the Director of Press and Public Relations at the Office of the President has told Journalist yesterday that all the the ministers has been asked to declare their assets by the 15th of July, 2017. Hope they will be published for all to know.

    • Fabaks,
      That’s a good move. Isn’t it? That is exactly why genuine critics criticise; To speak to the conscience of our leaders. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are partisan, disgruntled or hateful.
      Some irrational arguers however, have already asserted that; assets declaration is not a constitutional requirement! That is the dumbest a constitution would be. Constitutions generally are emphatic about accountability and transparency unless prostituted by decrees of a dictatorship. Such constitutions as the latter, in my opinion, cannot be basically relied upon to help a country take off with progressive constitutional values.
      Thank you for bringing this important step forward, to the benefit of people like myself.
      And, thanks to the authorities concerned for taking heed to the ordinary peoples queries.

      • Thank you for bringing into the spotlight, this important step forward taken, to the ………..

      • My brother Bourne,

        Even if declaration of assets by public officers is not in our constitution we all would agree that it is a very important practice in a democracy. It add spices to it. Therefore since it is something which was promised by the coalition leadership themselves without been under any form of pressure, it is obligatory on us as citizens to be constantly reminding them whenever they are seen to be reneging.

        And as a good practice we should ensure that it is now embedded in our constitution.

  4. Max, I think Bax needs to be commended for demonstrating a lot of patience every time he debates with your eel-y character. What do you mean by; (declaration of assets is not a constitutional requirement)? I might have a problem understanding simple English whereas you have a problem in speaking simple English. You and I can’t be of much help to each other. Stop being a swollen-headed fool weighing people ability to understand or speak English. IThst only proves what a clown you are.

    • Bourne, I equally have patience to deal with you and Bax in this forum since you have the ability to deny the truth at all cost . In fact you are trying hard to twist my view into your false and misrepresentation tactics despite your limited intellectual deficiencies. I will repeat myself to you once again that declaration of assets is not in the constitution which means it is not a requirement. In simple term, the constitution did not say the President and his cabinet shall declare their assests before taking Public office.
      However, for the sake of transparency and accountability or as for the matter of standard practice against corruption, it is a very good thing for the president and his cabinet to declare their assets before taking office . I 100% support declaration of assets and I would encourage Gambian people to advocate for political leaders to declare their assets.
      You see in politics or every day life , do not engage in foolish fault finding mission because it will lead to your lost of credibility and eventually exposes your ignorance and foolishness. Give credit where it is due . You should give me credit for supporting the declaration of assets. I only disagree with you when you tried to compare the declaration of assets with payment of tax ( tax obligations) which is lawful . Again in simple terms, declaration of assets is a good standard of practice against corruption and it promote transparency while payment of tax is a lawful obligation on businesses or private individuals. I hope my view is clear to you now.

      • Your view! Man oh man, you’ve gone nuts.
        I may be of a viewpoint but i am definitely not humbled by claiming ownership of views except for the fact that I have been relentlessly asserting my agreement with those who think Barrow and his cabinet ministers etc., should declare their assets, if a newspaper agency like the Daily Observer, has to be closed down due to tax evasions. Businesses likewise assets undeclared are not taxable thus getting down to the same severe financial crime; ‘tax evasion’, isn’t that true..
        ‘Declaration of assets’, becomes a constitutional requirement once it is one agreement among the invaluable agreements, which bode the coalition together, resulting to this government of the day unless, the coalition stakeholders were tricksters at the game, which I thought not. Let the brick layers, the stall keepers, farmers, etc have their say genuine say even if they are not career politicians or an intellectuals like yourself.
        Thanks for thumbing me up with your beautiful phrase, “limited intellectual deficiencies” It makes me feel well at ease with your evident intellectual superiority. Ha!

  5. Rect: ……have their genuine say…….

    • Hey Bourne ,
      Here are few tips for you when you are writing your post
      1. Read your write up before posting to avoid constant correction which becomes part of your habit in this forum and elsewhere .
      2. Try to understand what is written before you reply
      3. make sure you stay on topic .
      These are my tips of the day lol. please i do not want any negative feedback from you with regards to my tips. lol