In wake of the launch of the country’s first ever National Security Policy (NSP), a four-day training session on Security Sector Reform (SSR) kicked-off Tuesday at the National Nutrition Agency Conference hall (NaNa) located along Berthil Harding Highway in Bakau. Up to 15 participants drawn from the print, electronic and online media are taking part in the seminar aimed at building the capacity of journalists to report on SSR.
Dr. Johnathan Marley, a Senior Security Advisor and Head of Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), Banjul Office, emphasized the oversight role the media plays in the SSR process, re-echoeing the stories of human rights violations highlighted by journalists under the authoritarian regime of Yahya Jammeh.
Scheduled for 18th-21th June 2019, the workshop is jointly organised by Gambia Press Union (GPU) and the Geneva-based Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) and is part of the European Union (EU) funded project “Supporting The Security Sector Reform in The Gambia.”
Dr. Marley lauded the media for having set an “immensely powerful record” with stories of courage dedication to the profession and commitment to telling the story, communicating that to the Gambian people so that they are aware of what was going on in the country.
The team leader of DCAF-Banjul Office reminded participants that the responsibility placed upon the media is far from being diminished.
“Free and independent media are integral and essential component of democracy,” he said while indicating that their oversight role will help to hold accountable the country’s institutions.
“Only a dynamic, professional and plurastic media can provide the public with reliable information,” he added. “The media gives voices to the voiceless and build pressure on those in power.”
Deputising for GPU President, Jebel Ceesay reiterated the union commitment to teaming up with DCAF as the SSR is gradually taking shape.
“GPU has the mandate of promoting professionalism and quality standards of journalism in the country,” he remarked. He then described the training as a gateway for the union to uplift and sharpen the skills of journalists in reporting on SSR.
GPU’s Jebel Ceesay expressed hope that by the time the training is going to wrap up, participants will be acquainted with the necessary tools to report on SSR.
In her opening remarks, Enya Braun, International Aid / Cooperation Officer at the EU Delegation in Banjul, pointed out that Gambia still has many challenges to face.
She went on to say that security appears to be the most pressing challenges the country will have to deal with.
“There cannot be development without security,” she said.
She disclosed that than more than 1 billion Gambian dalasis have been allocated to Gambia as part of budget support.
“If The Gambia continues to make the necessary reforms to fight corruption, further budget support disbursements will follow in the years to come,” she said.
Secondly, she further stated that the EU has been funding the ECOMIG forcess, but was quick to say that the country’s security lies on the shoulders of Gambian forces.
Enya Braun said the third part of the EU assistance has to do with the SSR as the media has to fulfill its duty to inform in the ongoing reforms that are expected to reshape Gambia’s