By Ndey Sowe
Mr. Bah, Ms. Sillah and Yankuba Jallow
As journalists and media workers are deployed in the field for coverage of the voting process, Gambia Press Union (GPU) has provided safety hotlines to monitor the situation and act accordingly, as the National Assembly elections draw closer.
For this purpose, the following numbers are hereby issued as safety hotlines that journalists in the field can always access in case of any challenges, particularly for their safety and wellbeing.
The numbers are: 7383000, 3012445, 7660179 and 9013137 and any journalist who is attacked either physically or verbally by anyone, can call any of these numbers to alert the GPU, and anyone who has any form of challenge in the execution of this election coverage, should reach out to GPU through these numbers.
“As the GPU wishes every journalist a safe election coverage, let us always remember that we need to be alive to tell the next story, lest we become the story and this means no story is worth our life,” the President of the GPU Muhammed S Bah, said when sharing these Hotlines, to respond to the needs of journalists and media workers in terms of their own safety.
“Journalists should be availed with such platforms, to help each one of us stay safe and quickly reach out when the need arises,” Mr. Bah outlined. This is a proactive response mechanism for the GPU to easily get timely information in terms of safety. Mr. Bah explained that as the parliamentary election draws near, the GPU needs to put such mechanisms in place to be able to get relevant information whenever a journalist or media worker is in danger.
“We are not foreseeing any assaults from political supporters, the security, or any other individual against journalists, but it is important to prepare ahead,” Bah added and urged his colleagues to take all the numbers on the list as well as share them with others.
Yankuba Jallow, the President of the Young Journalists Association of The Gambia who also doubles as a reporter at Foroyaa Newspaper, welcomed the idea and said the initiative by the GPU is very important and equally timely.
“I will encourage all active reporters to make good use of the hotline and make calls when necessary. I will equally encourage journalists to follow safety tips learnt from their trainers because this is a high-stake election,” Yankuba said.
Nyima Sillah, a journalist at the Voice Newspaper in an interview shared that the hotline initiative is timely and could not have come at a better time. She said it is one of the vital means to monitor the welfare of journalists during crucial times like such elections.
However, Ms. Sillah said journalists are the most vulnerable people during elections but with this initiative, they can all be watchdogs for each other and can give a helping hand urgently.
Ms. Sillah said the hotlines will assist journalists to ease communication within themselves and the GPU, in ways to figure out solutions and urgent assistance in case of an eventuality; that the hotlines will be the best backup for her to feel comfortable when doing her work and will also assist her to contact or send messages when faced with challenges.
She advised her colleagues to be cautious and make the best use of the hotlines.