In the face of the deteriorating status of press freedom in Gambia, where media outlets are arbitrarily closed by state apparatus, and in the face of the recent closures of two independent newspaper The Gambia Press Union cautions government to reverse its decision.
The Gambia Press Union is taken aback by a recent order by Personnel of the National Intelligence Agency who on Friday September1 4, order the Publisher of the Standard Newspaper and the Daily News to cease publication with immediate effect.
We are concerned that the deteriorating state of media freedom in the country would undermine our democratic gains.
The Standard Newspaper and the Daily News have contributed significantly to the
promotion of democracy and development in The Gambia by providing a platform for not
only members of the opposition and the ruling party to air their views, but have also
amplified the views of Gambian ministers and members of the security forces.
The media play a crucial role in not only nurturing the ideals of democracy and human
rights, but also give voice to the voiceless.T he draftsmerVwomeno f the Gambian
Constitution are conscious of the significant role the media play in a democracy. This is
why section 207 (1) of the Second Republican Constitution states, "The freedom and
independence of the press and other information media are hereby guaranteed."
Section 207 (3) added, "The press and other information media shall at all times, be
free to uphold the principles, provisions and objectives of this Constitution, and the
responsibility and uccountability of the Government to the people of The Gambia."
Section 208 indicated, "All state owned newspapers, journals, radio and media
television shall afford fair opportunities and facilities for the presentation of divergent
views and dissenting opinion ."
By ordering the two organizations to cease publication, it means their readers are being
denied access to information contrary to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights which states, "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion snd
expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without intederence and to
seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of
We submit that by ordering these organizations to cease publication, it means their
workers are being denied the opportunity to work and earn income for a decent living.
We further submit that the closure of thesen ews organizationsw ould undoubtedly cause
hardship to the families of the media workers employed by the publishers; and as well
affect the casual workers.
Furthermore, this move has the potential to discourige investors from investing in the
media industry. Gambia being a developing country needs foreign direct investments to
not only keep the wheels of the economy moving, but to also create new employment
opportunities for its citizens. Therefore, the tiny West African nation should pave way for
the media to report its positive values to the world.
History has also proven that media is an effective tool for the conservation of peace and
the rule of law. This is why major democracies have promoted media freedom in their
Given that the tourist season is fast approaching, we believe the Gambia should at all
time avoid negative publicity as this may affect the tourist season which is a major
foreign exchange earner for the country.
Based on the foregoing, we call on The Gambia Government to reverse its decision and
allow the media organizations to contribute their quota to nation building.