GPU calls for safety of journalists ahead of parliamentary election
|Photo credit: Majac|
By Sheriff Saidykhan
The Gambia Press Union (GPU) called for the safety and security of journalists ahead of the Parliamentary and local government elections.
Many journalists in the country for the past years suffered string of assaults by party supporters.
After the December Presidential election, the press union renewed call for the government to ensure the safety and security of journalists during elections.
Muhammad S. Bah, President of Gambia Press Union (GPU) said the union has engaged security forces and politicians over the safety of journalists during elections.
The welfare and safety unit of the GPU, he said is committed to ensuring the safety and security of journalists at all times.
“The safety of journalists is very important. And the GPU is very much concerned about the safety of journalists. That is why we have distributed 100 press jackets. We have also trained several journalists on safety and we also shared safety tips to ensure journalists are aware on how to access risks, and what to do before going to any coverage. We also engaged the securities, and we have engaged the politicians. We have dinner with various political parties. We have discussions with all the political parties on the safety of journalists, which is key. We also have a unit called the welfare and safety unit of the GPU which will ensure that journalists can call and complain in terms of emergency” he remarked.
Buba Gagigo at Kerr Fatou said he faced numerous insecurities during covering election. He recounted:
“With GDC, the Gambia Democratic Congress which I also covered. There are instances that I felt insecured, and my safety was at risk for me. I can remember the day they were coming from there nationwide tour. The security came when I was on live covering, and told me that I have to go back and join the party militants because they want the Gambia Democratic Congress executive not to meet the National Peoples Party in Busumbala. They have to take a bend through Farato. So, I have to go at the back. That was not safe for me. I couldn't do anything, the security did exactly what they said, and I was at the back. I was there with only the party militants. The only thing I saw were vehicles, and also people walking and singing. I was not secured” he feared.
The Youth Secretary General of the United Democratic Party Kemo Bojang said freedom of speech is important to his party and they believe journalists should be given the security they deserve.
“For us at the United Democratic Party, freedom of speech is fundamental in our development and scope as a political party. This is why the safety of journalists is important to us. We believe journalists should be given the security they deserve” he said.
Cherno Jallow, veteran journalists cum media consultant decried numerous assaults on journalists, saying there is need to raise the awareness of both journalists and the security forces to mitigate frequent assaults on journalists.
“Well this thing has been going on for a long time, and it is obvious there is need for education on both sides. The security forces need to be educated on the role of the press in Gambian politics. The press too should be also educated as far the security people are concerned. They both have a role to play” he concluded.
Report credit: this extended report has been first published on the Majac website.