Minister of Communication: Government is committed to repealing draconian media laws

Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure, Ebrima Sillah

Minister of Communication Ebrima Sillah said on Monday that Government is committed to repealing laws that are inimical to press freedom.

The minister made this statement during the World Press Freedom Day Celebration. See below the full text of the statement issued by the minister:

Banjul, The Gambia — As The Gambia joins the rest of the world in commemorating World Press Freedom Day, the Government under the leadership of His Excellency President Adam Barrow, wishes to assure the media fraternity of its unflinching commitment to media pluralism and press freedom in the country.

Since the election of President Barrow into office in December 2016, The Gambia has seen a proliferation of media houses with 33 radio stations, 6 television channels, 4 daily newspapers and several online media platforms all operating freely without undue restrictions from the state.

Equally, The Gambia Government has shown commitment in repealing all laws deemed inimical to press freedom by presenting and defending several Bills before the National Assembly in 2019 that are now at Committee stage for consideration. The Government keenly awaits the passing of these Bills by the National Assembly to finally expunge the obsolete media laws from the country’s statute books.

Notably, the Access to Information Bill which aims to ease difficulties citizen face in accessing non-classified public information was also presented before the Assembly since 2019.

Our efforts in promoting a vibrant media landscape in The Gambia have been recently recognized in the 2021 Global Press Freedom Ranking by Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF). Of the 55 African countries assessed by RSF, The Gambia is ranked 9th in West Africa and 10th in sub-Saharan Africa. This is very significant for a country that is coming out of decades of human rights abuses. We have been trailing behind many countries in media freedoms for so long.

The Government will continue to build a media environment that is free, friendly and geared towards upholding the rights of all media practitioners. This new trajectory is a far cry from what happened during 22 years of the past regime when The Gambia was known for less pleasant things including the abuse of human rights and the detention and in some cases killing or disappearance of journalists.

In just under five years, the Barrow administration has been able to turn things around and restore The Gambian people’s dignity and honor. The Gambia Government now promotes and protects fundamental human rights for all. Gone are the days when fear and terror ruled over the great and innocent people of this country.

We recognize that rectifying the ills of the past is an ongoing process. The Gambia Government is sincerely cognizant of the fact that democracy does not and cannot exist in a vacuum hence our citizens need to get the right and relevant information to enable them make informed choices.

Therefore, the Government of The Gambia under President Adama Barrow remains resolute in providing the necessary conducive environment for the media to operate freely and ethically within the laws of the country.

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