GPU Awards Outstanding Journalists


By Makutu Manneh

The Gambia Press Union on Saturday, 16 December 2023 awarded outstanding journalists in their 8th National Journalism Awards (NJA).

The theme of this year’s awards was “Breaking from the Past: Safeguarding the Principles of Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression.”

The Gambia National Journalism Awards is the highest and most prestigious Journalism Awards in the country organised by the Gambia Press Union (GPU) as a flagship event of the annual commemoration of World Press Freedom Day. The Awards honour and celebrate courage and excellence in Gambian journalism across all types of news and information media – print, online/multimedia platforms, radio, television and photography.

The winners and their award categories were – Momodou Lamin Choi of QTV won the Environment Reporting Category, Nyima Sillah of The Voice won the Children’s Reporting Category, Kaddy Jawo of Malagen won the Health and Medical Reporting Category, Yankuba Jallow of Foroyaa won Legal Affairs Reporting Category, Momodou Gagigo of Star Tv/Radio won the Agricultural Reporting Category, Mariama Cham of Eye Africa Tv won the Culture Category, Arts and Entertainment Reporting Category, Mustapha K. Darboe of Malagen won Investigative Reporting Category, Aminata E. Sanyang of GRTS won the Security Affairs Reporting Category, Lamin Fadera of Afri Radio won the Sports Reporting Category, Kebba Jeffang of Malagen won Political Reporting Category, Mustapha K. Darboe of Malagen won the Human Rights Reporting Category and Yero S. Bah of Mansa Banko Online won the Business and Finance Reporting Category. Mustapha K. Darboe was awarded the Journalist of the Year Award.

The Gambia Press Union awarded the European Union, Ndey Tapha Sosseh and Pa Nderry Mba’I with Press Freedom Heroes. Samuel Sarr, the Managing Editor of Foroyaa Newspaper also received an award from the Deyda Hydara Family for his commitment to press freedom and the work he has been doing in the media over the years.

Muhammed S. Bah, the President of the Gambia Press Union (GPU) said a “very dark chapter” in Gambian media history has been resurfacing.

He said the Union has recorded recent alarming statements from senior political figures, including the President of the Republic of The Gambia against the media and civil rights advocates which could affect press freedom and freedom of expression. M.S Bah added that there has been arbitrary arrest and detention of media workers without charge or trial. He cited incidents of seizing mobile phones of media workers and civil rights advocates and the insistence on accessing whatever information is stored in those phones by state security operatives.

“We have also witnessed physical attacks on journalists mainly by the police and political party activists – from both the ruling and opposition parties – for which no one is held accountable,” he said. 

“Despite the fact that some of these cases are reported to the police, not a single investigation into a case was concluded, and no one has ever been prosecuted.”

Bah said the incidents of attacks on press freedom remain a serious concern for the Union, and the failure of the State to bring perpetrators of crimes against Gambian journalists to justice, has helped sustain a cycle of violence against journalists for 29 years – covering a period from the dictatorship to the post-dictatorship era.

Bah called on the Gambia Government to speed up the reform initiatives which it committed itself to do including the implementation of the recommendations of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission and repealing some of the existing media laws that have laid a foundation of structural causes of violence against the media and media workers.

“It is essential for the government to prioritize the safety of journalists and human rights defenders to safeguard our democratic gains,” he said.

He said the government must recognize the media as a crucial pillar in the democratic and good governance process rather than viewing journalists as adversaries. He also said journalists must be provided with a conducive environment to carry out their duties without fear or hindrance from any quarter, be it the judiciary, the executive, or the legislature.

However, he acknowledged the progress made in Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression over the years, and commended the government for the gains made, including the enactment of the Access to Information Law in 2021.

He informed the gathering that it is heartening to note the collaborative efforts between the government, the Ministry of Information, the Gambia Press Union, and the Civil Society to ensure the law’s full implementation through the establishment of an Information Commission in early 2024. This development stems from the recommendations of the Key Stakeholder Consultative Forum initiated by the Ministry of Information.

“We also welcome plans to repeal parts of the media laws in the Criminal Code that restricts press freedom when the new Criminal Offences Bill which seeks to repeal the former, becomes law,” he said.