Gambia: When Journalists Targeted, Society Pays Price - Minister Jawo

Deyda Hydara
18 December 2017

Gambia's minister of Information has said it is evident that when journalists were targeted in The Gambia, the whole society had to pay the price.

Such evidence is indicated by daily revelations at the Commission of Inquiry looking into the former president's assets and finances, discoveries of police investigations and the Solo Sandeng Trial, Jawo said in a statement at the 13th commemoration of killing of Deyda Hydara.

"News that could have covered - corruption, fraud, conflicts of interest, and even state sponsored murder - was silenced," he further argued.

"This is the kind of information the Gambian public deserves to know. This is the kind of information the Gambian public has a right to know. Access to Information (Freedom of Information) is also considered an urgent public need by my Ministry," Jawo further said, noting that the past two months, his ministry has fast-tracked all initiatives to work towards the formulation and drafting of a FoI Bill.

"It is evident that an Access to Information (ATI) Law alone will not solve the problems faced by the Gambian media whilst repressive media laws still exist," he added.

His statement, read on his behalf by special advisor Ndey Tapha Sosseh as he embarked on a state mission to Turkey with the vice president, as delivered at symposium held in commemorating the 13th year of murder of Deyda Hydara.

For the past thirteen (13 years) the Gambia Press Union, friends of the Gambian media and the international community have condemned Deyda's killing and other attacks against Gambian journalists.

Minister Jawo, who described Deyda Hydara as a colleague and friend, said he was relieved that Gambia government will go beyond calling for justice as has been done for the past 13 years.

"This year, the new Government has agreed to respect the decisions of the ECOWAS Community Court in vis-à-vis compensating the families of Deyda Hydara and Chief Ebrima Manneh. My colleague," Jawo announced, indicating that the minister of Justice is in contact with the families to discuss payment modalities.

"The Gambia government through the Ministry of Information and Communications Infrastructure is committed to creating the enabling environment for both Gambian and international journalists in the country to perform their duties without fear of reprisals," he added.

"To this effect, I have proposed specific steps to intensify our efforts to enhance the safety of journalists," he said.

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