The Young Journalists’ Association of The Gambia celebrated this year’s World Press Freedom Day with hope and determination, although it wants the government to scrap Yahya Jammeh’s repressive media laws. The association’s message is contained in this statement published below.
The Young Journalists’ Association of The Gambia (YJAG) is pleased to associate itself with the rest of the world in commemorating World Press Freedom Day, 2018. We take this opportunity to congratulate all the media practitioners in the country particularly the young journalists on this important day.
As this is a moment of reflecting on the activities of journalists across the world, be it progress made or otherwise, YJAG would like to commend the government of the Gambia for the relative free environment for the press.
We note that the government expressed the will to repeal or amending draconian media laws that have been used to suppress freedom of the press and of expression for far too long.
This has resulted to the low performance of the media in its function of holding the government to account as killings, disappearing, torturing and fleeing of highly experienced journalists during a very oppressive regime became the order of the day.
However, despite the relative free environment for journalists under the present government, colonial laws as well as those enacted by the former government to suppress access to and dissemination of information remain in the legal books.
YJAG therefore, urge the government to quickly translate its verbal commitment to press freedom into action by repealing and replacing them with friendly laws that march the international standard.
YJAG is also calling on the Gambia government to quicken the investigations process of the cases involving some journalists who were victimized for carrying out their work.
We are particularly concern with the cases involving the late Deyda Hydara, co-founder of The Point Newspaper who was gunned down in 2004 as well as that of Chief Ebrima Manneh who was disappeared since 2006.
YJAG anticipates for the new Gambia that will respect freedom of the press and see media as a partner in development.
Equally, YJAG will take this opportunity to call on media administrations across the country to look into the welfare of young journalists. This includes addressing the problem of low pay and creating conducive working environment to enable them to work conveniently.