The West African Network for Peace Building (WANEP), in collaboration with the Gambia Press Union (GPU), on Monday September 18th opened a 10 -day training of trainers meeting for 40 journalists on transitional justice and conflict reporting. The event was held at a local hotel in Senegambia.
Anna Jones, the national coordinator of WANEP speaking on behalf of the CSO (Coalition on Elections - the Gambia), saidthe country is going through an important phase of its democratization process including the Transitional Justice process which includes the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC), Prosecutions, reform processes and truth telling.
"Each of these areas can generate wealth of stories and for the media, many challenges. They have a great role to play as Transitional justice reporting requires in-depth investigation to excavate through layers of complex, contested versions of the truth. The process however, isn't only about naming and shaming. It's also about healing, about conversations and dialogue and finding common ground," she said.
Jones said journalists are key in sensitizing the public about the process, addressing issues of identity be it political, economic, cultural or ethnicity and in shaping the extent to which reconciliation, peace and stability can be sustained.
"It is therefore imminent to build the capacity of journalists in the Gambia to improve the content of news and programs being delivered by journalists on transitional justice, to ensure they are impartial and accurate and work to ensure that victims and other participants are treated with respect," she said.
Bai Emil Touray, President of the Gambia Press Union, said government is working on a bill of Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC). Hence the importance for journalists to understand transitional justice process and how to report its proceedings.
"Let us always detach our emotions from our stories and report the proceedings accurately. While we want justice to be done, we want people to reconcile too," he said.
The deputy resident representative of UNDP, Ms. Neasie Golakai-Gould, said transitional justice requires conflict sensitive reporting by the media. She tasked journalists to recognize facts in conflict sensitive reporting.
The Gambia's Information Minister Demba A. Jawo, challenged journalists to report facts that will promote peace and reconciliation during the process of the TRRC. He said government is ready to work with the media by providing admirable conditions for the practitioners. Jawo informed that it is against this background that government is developing a freedom of information bill, so that journalists can work effectively.