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Access to Information Act, 2021

Within the broader context of freedom of expression, the right to information was before 2017 politicized and misrepresented as a threat to the country’s peace and stability. This was done by the previous regime to evade accountability, stifle press freedom and freedom of expression, limit access to information, and citizen’s right to know. However, after the change of government in 2016, public interest in access to information grew following an unprecedented five-year CSO-led right-to-know campaign. This campaign, led by the Gambia Press Union (GPU), culminated in the establishment of the CSO Coalition on Access to Information which initiated the process of promulgating an Access to Information (ATI) Bill. The Gambia now has an Access to Information Act, after the Bill was passed unanimously by the National Assembly in July 2021 and signed into law by the President of the Republic a month later. The legislative framework grants the citizens – and everyone else – the legal right of access to information that the government and private entities keep for or on behalf of the public.

Access to Information Act, 2021


Media Laws of The Gambia

The past administration of The Gambia implemented measures that restricted media freedoms and repressed journalists as well as other human rights defenders in the country. For over 22 years, the former regime was characterized by gross and systematic violations of human rights and freedom of expression, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions, physical attacks, censorship, etc. Many victims were journalists, free expression and human rights activists and general citizens. Following the change of government in 2016, the Gambia Press Union in its discussions with the Government of the Gambia has raised the issue for reform of all laws that negatively impact the media and stifle freedom of speech and expression.  However, there are yet to be any meaningful attempts at media law reforms on the side of the government, despite establishing a Media Law Review Committee in 2018. The committee has since submitted its report to the Ministry of Information with recommendations for the laws to be amended or repealed.  

Media Laws of The Gambia Document


Media Law Review Committee

Report on Recommendations for Revising Existing Media and Communications Laws in The Gambia

With support from ARTICLE 19 West Africa, a Media Law Review Committee was set up by your Ministry under the leadership of Demba A. Jawo in a bid to create an enabling environment for freedom of expression and media development in The Gambia.

The composition of the committee included a diverse group of senior representatives of the various media related entities, civil society, the National Assembly, oversight and regulatory agencies, government officials and consultants from the following institutions:

–        Ndey Tapha Sosseh, Special Advisor to the Minister (MOICI) of Information and Communications Infrastructure, Co-Chair

–        Hussein Thomasi, Special Advisor to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Co-Chair

–        Samuel Sarr, Chairperson, Newspaper Publishers Association of The Gambia, Vice chairperson

–        Madi Ceesay, National Assembly Member for Serrekunda

–        Aisha Davies Ann, Director of Information Services

–        Ebrima Sillah, Director General, Gambia Radio and Television Services

–        Lamin Jahateh, representing the Gambia Press Union (GPU)

–        Ya Amie Touray, delegating for Junkung Jammeh, head of Legal Affairs, Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA)

–        Madi Jobarteh, Programs Manager, The Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (TANGO)

–        Yusupha Bojang, President, Network of Community Radio Stations of The Gambia

–        Harona Drammeh, Member of the Broadcasters Association of The Gambia

–        Muhammed Lang Kinteh, Executive Director, Broadcasters Association of The Gambia

–        Amprofi Agyemang, Country Representative, Article 19

–        Poncelet Ileleji, West African Internet Governance Resource Person

–        Kanni Touray, Senior State Counsel, Attorney General’s Chambers and Ministry of Justice

–        Amadou Nyang, Deputy Director of ICT, Ministry of Information and Communications Infrastructure

The Committee reviewed and made recommendations for the review of the following media laws:

  1. a) The Information and Communications Act 2009 (As Amended 2013)
  2. b) The Criminal Code and Subsequent Amendments
  3. c) The Indemnity (Amendment) Act, 2001
  4. d) The Newspapers (Amendment) Act, 2004
  5. e) The Newspapers and Broadcasting Act, 1944
  6. f) The Official Secrets Act,1922 (As Amended)
  7. g) The Gambia Radio and Television Services Corporation Act, 2004
  8. h) The Telegraphy Act, 2005

The former Minister of Information, Ebrima Sillah, who was part of the Committee in his previous capacity as Director General of GRTS, noted that his ministry already drafted a cabinet paper on the recommendation of the Committee which was to be tabled at a cabinet sitting. He also said a bill to repeal the laws was being drafted and that the numerous laws that restrict the work of the media and journalists by criminalizing speech and dissent will be repealed in December 2018 (https://www.kerrfatou.com/bad-media-laws-to-be-repealed-in-december/). However, the laws remain till date.

Report on Recommendations for Revising Existing Media and Communications Laws in The Gambia

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