By MUHAMMED S. BAH
The Gambia Press Union (GPU) and the Ministry of Communication and Infrastructure, on Thursday 17 August 2017, held a day long public forum at Ocean Bay Hotel to launch a strategic framework for media reform.
The Media Foundation for West Africa, the International Media Support and Gambia Media Support partnered with GPU and the ministry to develop the strategic framework. Representatives of these institutions formed part of a 12- member expert group of national and international Media Practitioners, academics and policy makers amongst others that developed the strategic framework.
According to the organizers, the objective of the forum is to present the strategic framework by the expert group to stakeholders from different media outlets and Institutions, a way of validating the media reform policy framework.
The strategic document focuses on three key thematic areas, namely, legal and policy reforms, capacity development and institutional strengthening.
The forum was also attended by representatives from UNESCO, ECOWAS, EU, UNDP, UN, and MLDI.
In his opening remarks, the Minister of Information Demba Ali Jawo, underscored the very vital role that the media has in promoting accountability and transparency and the key role it plays in strengthening democracy.
“The strategic media framework is a collaborative and participatory process that includes MOICI, GPU, the media Foundation for West Africa, Independent Media Support, and the Gambia Media Support (GAMES),” Minister Jawo underscored.
“The Framework is going to be one of the most significant inputs that would guide the media sector to reform in The Gambia,” he said. He expressed appreciation to all partners who have participated in the crusade. He stated that freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal declaration of Human rights and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, is the cornerstone of any democratic society.
“Fundamental rights, enablers of other rights and exercising these rights, should not have any bottle necks especially those systematically designed to limit freedom of expression by government institutions,” he underscored.
He also urged media practitioners to take public interest and disseminate factual information.
Other speakers at the program were Professor Kwame Kari Kari a MFWA board member, Mr. Suleiman Braimah, Executive Director, MFWA, Mr. Finn Rasmussen, Head of Department for Africa, IMS, Mr. Lars Moller, GAMES and support messages by UNESCO, ECOWAS, EU, UNDP, MLDI through video recording.
Mr. Bai Emil Touray, President GPU, gave a rundown of the strategic Framework for media reform and the closing remarks was given by Ms. Aisha Davies, Director at the department of Information Services.
The event was chaired by Ms. Kadjatou Jawara of the GPU.