IGP Mamour Jobe thanked the delegation and informed them that he convened the “frank family meeting” to discuss events surrounding Madi Jobarteh’s arrest and some other issues relating to the media.
IGP Jobe said that Mr. Jobarteh was granted a permit to protest for the murder of George Floyd and two other Gambians who were shot by police in the United States. Mr. Jobarteh was interviewed during this process and made reference to three cases; Kebba Secka, Haruna Jatta and Ousman Joof citing them as police brutality cases which needs to be investigated. According to the IGP all the reference statements Mr. Jobarteh made were false.
“We felt he had offended the law and that provision was there to judge” IGP Jobe said. He quickly added that with the with the intervention of the civil society organizations and the National Human Rights Commission they were able to settle the case amicably.
He also raised concerns over personal attacks/insults on social media and some unprofessional programs media houses air. He called on the Union to engage some of the media proprietors and talk to them about the manner they produce these contents.
Sheriff Bojang Jr. thanked the IGP for the invitation noting that the meeting would serve as a morale booster as far the media/security personnel relationship is concerned. He said that series of meetings and training have been sponsored by GPU for security personal.
“When we stop seeing each other as brothers, sisters, cousins and not as adversaries then we will progress” nothing can’t be done without dialogue.
Ousman Yarbo Chairman of Tango described the meeting as an excellent initiative. “Twenty years working in civil society we never had this even though we tried, there were attempts to bring police and civil society together” he said.
He called on the police to also look into issues like corruption, tribalism, drug pushing and managing the youths. Mr Yarbo suggested that the Union should organize more trainings for media outlets and invite proprietors for sensitization to reduce the friction.
Secretary General Gambia Press Union, Saikou Jammeh described policing in a democracy as a difficult task. He urged the IGP to refer their complaints with regards to broadcasting to PURA, a government established platform created to regulate broadcasters. He also assured him that GPU has developed a code of conduct and the media council, a self-regulatory body tasked with handling all complaints relating journalists. With respect to Madi Jobarteh’s incident, Mr. Jammeh said it is not an isolated one, citing examples of Mama Kandeh and Dr Ismaila Ceesay.
Mr.Jammeh reminded the gathering that the Ecowas Court of justice urged The Gambia government to remove bad media laws from our constitution because it is not good for a democracy.
He said the police are been selective in their work, stating that GPU has complained about 7 assaults on journalists and none of these incidents were investigated and since then 14 incidents has happened. just last month one happened. We are ready to work with you, we are ready to intensive the dialogue
IGP in his response said even though the Ecowas court urged the government to scrap out Bad media laws, it has not been removed yet and once it is not done it is to be referred to.
Salieu Taal President Gambia Bar Association said the laws are there to serve Society. “Any unnecessary restriction of freedom of expression will make a mockery of our democracy”. He further urged the police to exercise a bit more patience particularly with regards to anything outside incitement.
John Charles Njie applauded the IGP for the invitation and said beyond all the titles we are Gambians with the best interest at heart, together a lot can be achieved.
He stated that the police are here to protect us all and make sure that there’s law and order but sometimes may seem to be defending the political class. Mr Njie said the police must demonstrate objectivity in what they do, that will cause the citizens to trust them.
The NCHR boss Emmanuel Joof emphasized that the police are mandated to preserve the law as is necessary in a democratic society whilst advising citizens to exercise their rights in due process and follow law and order.
Joof said the NHRC is planning to engage GPU by bringing in veteran journalists like DA Jawo to train journalists. “We have to have a convergence and I think you’ve opened the door,” he concluded.
Mr Ebrima Bah from the office of the IGP, in his closing remarks thanked the officials for coming, he has created the platform to encourage people to talk and assured them that the IGP’s doors will always be open, to him