The Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure, Ebrima Sillah, on Sunday, 23 December 2018, launched an independent voluntary self-regulatory body for the Gambian media.
The Media Council of The Gambia is an initiative pioneered by the Gambia Press Union with the support of the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) with the objective of promoting and upholding the highest professional standards for journalism in The Gambia.
Ebrima Sillah, the Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure, said the government is in support of the self-regulatory body.
"We are not going to be a government that will harass or interfere in your work and we will continue to work with you,” the minister said while officially launching the media council at Djembe Beach Hotel.
Himself a journalist by training, Minister Sillah said the government is working on repealing all draconian media laws in the statute books as part of the democratic reforms that the Barrow-led administration has been embarking upon.
In a statement read on his behalf, Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow, executive secretary of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), said the launching of the media council is a testimony that the Gambian media fraternity is owning up to its responsibility of properly regulating their activities and ensuring that professional standards are effectively adhered to.
He said: “The Media Council is well positioned to advocate for and protect the freedom of the media and ensure that it preserves the trust of the public by providing its informative and ethical quality.
“I urge you all to exercise professionalism in the execution of your mandate and I have absolutely no doubt that you are on top of this.”
GPU President Sheriff Bojang Jnr said all the journalists in The Gambia agreed upon one thing and that is the need to raise ethical standards of journalism in the country.
“To ensure that, a lot of options were put on the table and this proposed council emerged the best option,” he said.
Mr Bojang said the Gambian media prefers self-regulation to government or statutory regulation which he said can be used against the media at any given time.
Madi Jobarteh, national coordinator of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, said self-regulation is the only way forward for the media in democracies.
“Self-regulation is creating institutions and tools to manage oneself towards a goal, build one’s skills, uphold standards and values and in the media that reflects reporting on the issues of society in an inclusive manner, leaving behind none based on fulfilling human right and equality,” he said.
The Media Council of The Gambia is initiated by the GPU as a voluntary body focusing on mediating complaints raise by individuals and organisations against the media and building the ethical capacity of media practitioners.
The GPU has long recognised the need for the regulatory framework for the Gambian media industry to enhance professionalism and mitigate conflict that might arise between the media and its stakeholders.