The Gambia Press Union on November 6, 2021 held a belated commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.
The Day, usually observed annually on November 2, is internationally recognized by United Nations. It is meant to draw attention to the low global conviction rate for violent crimes against journalists and media workers
In The Gambia, impunity for crimes against journalists remains a major challenge, with no prosecutions. As the country heads to the polls in December 2021 to elect a new president, the Union is concerned about the safety of journalists.
Concerns about physical and verbal assaults on journalists were raised at Saturday’s symposium as the nomination of presidential candidates ended and with a few days before official campaign starts.
The Vice President of the GPU, Isatou Keita; Chief Superintendent Lamin Jaiteh, Gambia Police Force; and Demba Kandeh, a Researcher and Journalism Lecturer at the University of The Gambia – served as panelists.
Keita in her opening speech said the symposium was timely and that it was a great way to openly discuss safety issues journalists are faced with in their day-to-day work.
“We have seen severe attacks on journalists in the past, but there has been some improvement thanks to the efforts of GPU,” she said. “When it comes to addressing crime against journalist, we have a very important role”
Keita said the GPU will continue to work collectively to put the needs and aspirations of the journalists at the forefront of its advocacy.
Chief Superintendent Jaiteh, who discussed with journalists about community policing and security measures for the election, said policing in a democracy required respect for human rights and the rule of law.
He said it was important for the police to work with journalists because no police organisation can pride itself by working alone.
Demba Kandeh said tackling impunity for crimes against journalists is integral to Gambia’s democratic process and the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections.
He urges stakeholders in the electoral process including the security forces, political parties and the electoral commission to continue creating a free environment for journalists before, during and after the election.