The Gambia Press Union (GPU) second-in-command, Mustapha K. Darboe, has decried the ongoing deterioration of relationship between the media and gov’t. He said taking a hard line on the media has the potential of attracting bad publicity for government.
“This has attracted a lot negative international attention for gov’t,” Darboe deplored in an exclusive interview with this medium.
The proprietor of the Brikama-based Home Digital FM, Pa Modou Bojang, was released on January 28 along with King FM top executive Gibbi S. Jallow and DJs Madiou Jallow and Ebrima. Both radio stations are still shutdown as the journalists face a single of incitement to violence.
While welcoming the move taken by Gambian authorities to release the four media practitioners, GPU Vice-president seized the opportunity to remind gov’t about the huge progress made these past three years. He then cited the recent Reporters Without Borders (RWB) Press Freedom Index where the tiny West African nation improved its record by gaining 21 places.
“We’ve done that because the democratic space has expanded, and a lot of positive things have happened,” he said. But he was quick to add the disappointing twist in the relationship does not augur well for the country as far as its human rights record is concerned.
Darboe further stated that there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the security sector, condemning the behaviour of some members of the security forces who are acting in a rogue way.
“There was one security personnel who wanted to attack GPU President Sheriff Bojang Jr. at Bundung Police Station,” he indicated. “His own colleagues have to intervene and stopped him.”
Weighing in on the closure of Home Digital FM and King FM, the press union top official said security forces mounting a crackdown on media houses is something reminiscent of the dark days the media went through under the previous regime.
“This is reminiscent of the dictatorship!” he exclaimed. “This shows how much power unchecked can do.”
We were saying, he went on, this cannot happen to our democracy. “We know now that this can happen,” he said.
Darboe called on the authorities to lift any restrictive measure imposed on two news outlets.
Meanwhile, as Gambia joined the international community to commemorate World Radio Day, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has welcomed call for targeted sanctions to be leveled against press freedom violators.
“[W]e need governments to take action, not just make rhetorical pledges. That is why CPJ endorsed a report on the use of targeted sanctions to protect journalists,” reads a news release issued today by the media watchdog and which was seen by this medium.