It is only when we defend everyone’s right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression that we can build a progressive society
Saikou Jammeh, secretary general of GPU talking to the participants
The president of the Gambia Press Union, Emil Touray, has told a gathering of Gambian security forces that freedom of speech and freedom of expression are a basic prerequisite in the pursuit of development in any functioning democracy.
President Touray made this statement at Tango Hall where the Union gathered a host of security forces on a sensitisation workshop on freedom of expression and its importance in a democracy.
“One way we can enhance the space is to engage in discussions to have a society built on the foundation of human rights. This forum will provide us the opportunity to critically look at issues that impedes freedom of expression and look at the shortcoming of the actions with a view to enhancing the actors to have a better society,” Touray said in his opening remarks.
“The development of freedom of expression and the press enhances development and security. In this view, security officers have a vital role in the enforcement of the law and it is important for them to have a clear understanding of freedom of expression and of the media…This gathering is one that is not only beneficiary to the law enforcers but it is one that can enhance our work as media actors and defuse sometimes unnecessary misconceptions regarding media freedom.”
The Secretary General of the GPU declared this year as a year of advocacy during a journalism award ceremony organized by the Union couple of months ago and this two-day seminar on freedom of expression is part of a broader advocacy programme by the Union.
Sang Mendy, a journalism trainee at the Union’s School of Journalism, said the one-year project is divided into four components, all of which is geared towards enhancing freedom of expression within the larger Gambian society.
“There will be a similar one for the judiciary and the national assembly. There will be a national consultative forum for all the relevant stakeholders,” Mendy said.
“These workshops and a follow-up seminar are planned to raise the voice of the Gambia Press Union in its advocacy on freedom of expression and how it enhance growth and development.”
Ebrima Njie, a representative of the Ministry of Information, also hailed the importance of the workshop in his opening remark.