GPU launches biggest ever free expression, media defense project

The Gambia Press Union has announced it will come up with annual state of freedom of expression report

GPU SG Saikou Jammeh

Saikou Jammeh, secretary general of GPU

The Gambia Press Union (GPU) has launched its biggest ever media defense and free expression advocacy project since its establishment in 1978.

The cost of the two-year United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) sponsored project tittle ‘Enhancing Government Media Relations to Improve the Legal Environment for Freedom of Expression in The Gambia’ is D9, 866,796.

During the commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day last year – 2016, the GPU launched the ‘Decade of Campaign for the Protection and Promotion of Freedom of Expression in The Gambia’.

Gambian media has suffered two decades of old-school African dictatorship which resulted into, among other things, exiling of about 20% of its journalists since 1994, leading to a huge compromise in quality of media output.

Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh lose country’s last elections and now lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea but country’s media still bears his scars.

The new found freedom and sudden rise in free expression of the population as well as the popular growth of citizen journalism and new recruits into mainstream media means more work for the professional body to ensure the work of journalists remain relevant to the political transition in the small nation.

“We have since started work to realise the objectives of this declaration. On March 21, 2017, UNDEF approved a grant of US$220,000 to the GPU, after negotiations that lasted more than one year,” GPU said in a statement.

The Union said it will work with national and international partners to complement the efforts of the Government towards promoting an enabling environment for freedom of speech and responsible and investigative journalism in The Gambia.

“In this regard, the GPU and its partners will engage in consultations with a wide range of stakeholders, including media, lawyers, students, youth, security forces, National Assembly, judiciary, government agencies and civil society.

“This will lead to the establishment of the National Freedom of Expression Committee that will work towards a comprehensive review of existing freedom of expressions and advocate for the introduction of laws that are conducive to freedom of speech.

“The union will also come up with annual state of freedom of expression report.

“Furthermore, the GPU will set up an independent media self-regulatory mechanism to monitor compliance and enforce the code of conduct while serving as a platform for the public to lodge complaints against media infringements on the rights and freedom of the members of the public.”

 

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