9 January 2013

Gambia: President Jammeh Responds to EU's 17 Point Statement

The European Union has issued its '17 points' statement under Article 8 (Political Dialogue) of the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement on respect for human and political rights and media freedoms which has compelled the Government to react.

According to the 8pm news bulletin on GRTS television, the first cabinet sitting in the year and an emergency one at that was called by the president "to brief the cabinet ministers on his stance regarding burning issues that emanated from discussions between officials of the Government of The Gambia and the European Union, issues that are considered by the Gambian leader as unacceptable and contradictory to the laws of the Gambia."

The report continued that the document dubbed 'Article 8: Intensify Political Dialogue' "stated among a host of other things that the Gambia Government must confirm its commitment to allow the free operation of independent media in the country within a stipulated time frame of one month, something which the Gambian leader describes as bogus cognizant of the fact that it was during the second republic that the country witnessed an influx of private media houses both print and electronic."

"Today how many newspapers do we have in country to the extent that even foreigners have their own newspapers? So what commitment does the European Union want from us?" asked President Jammeh.

The 17 points raised by EU include the removal of regulatory and monetary conditions for the establishment of media houses, free access to information, revision of provisions of the criminal code that on libel, sedition, false publication and false information to public servant, freedom of information laws, upholding moratorium on death penalty, identification of location of those executed, review of death penalty by National Assembly and introduction of de jure moratorium, signing and ratification of second optional protocol on covenant on civil and political rights, MOU with ICRC to allow access to prison facilities on a regular basis also extended to diplomatic corps, presentation of costed proposal for the improvement of prison facilities, provision of information on UN Convention on torture and ratification, signing of Optional Protocol to the Convention on Torture and the establishment of a Human Rights Commission by the Commonwealth.

President Jammeh said that certain issues being demanded by the EU "are not up for discussion".

He said he will not succumb to a few Euros being dangled before the country for it to accept certain conditions.

Foroyaa will publish a verbatim report of the cabinet meeting as aired on GRTS television in our publication tomorrow.

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