The minister of Information, Communication and Infrastructure has announced his ministry’s intention to present bills before the National Assembly to amend media laws that are inimical to freedom of expression. Minister Ebrima Sillah made this pronouncement at a forum of editors held at Ocean Bay Hotel on Saturday, 1 September, 2018.
He told the gathering that a committee was set up to review the media laws which has since submitted its report and the bills have been subsequently drafted. The next stage is to get Cabinet approval before presenting the bills to the National Assembly for consideration. He anticipates that by the end of this year the bill will be presented to the National Assembly.
Committees comprising personnel from the media, NGOs, the UN system and the ministry have been reviewing media laws for months with a view to amending them to meet democratic demands. Of great concern to media practitioners are the laws on sedition, libel, false publication, false news and official secrets, which have led to the conviction of many media personnel and citizens.
The minister also revealed that plans are advanced to enact a freedom of information law. He however cautioned not to rush the law, taking into account experience of countries like Ghana. He wants a freedom of information law that is effective and to do so the necessary ground work needs to be done.
The Minister expressed his desire for critical, strong and independent media run by media personnel who disseminate the truth in good faith.
He also expressed support for a regulatory mechanism to ensure professional standards.
Editors from the print, electronic and online media attended the forum which was organized by the Gambia Press Union with the support of the UNDP and WANEP.
The UNDP Resident Coordinator, Ms. Ade Mamonyane-Lekoetje, and Ms. Anna Jones, the National Network Coordinator of WANEP, made statements cautioning media personnel to beware that the information they divulge can have the potential of undermining peace.