By Kebba Mamburay / Mustapha Jallow

The National Stakeholders Consultation on Tuesday 22nd May 2018, held a forum on the promotion of freedom of information and expression, at Alliance Francaise, organized by the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violation, in partnership with the Media Legal Defense Initiative and National endowment for Democracy.

In his remarks, Emil Touray, president of Gambia Press Union (GPU), cited the difficult periods they’ve gone through from the assassination of Deyda Hydara to the disappearance of Chief Manneh amongst others. Emile pointed out that the family of Chief Manneh had been helpful in giving out information, when people were reluctant to give information to journalists regarding the circumstances that led to the death or disappearance of Chief Manneh.

Mr. Madi Jobarteh the Deputy Executive Director of Tango remarked that the spirit of human dignity shall be protected in every aspect of life; that this is not possible in the absence of civil society. Jobarteh added that all rights are important; that freedom of expression could be considered as the bedrock of enjoyment of rights; that it is through freedom of expression that the quality of education and health care can be ensured.

Joanna Rice, the representative of Media Legal Defense Initiative and National Endowment for Democracy, stated that transitional justice has lost a lot of effectiveness and meaning. Rice added that every family member of the victims, has the right to know what happened to the remains of their loved ones and they have the right for Government to do everything possible, go get those remains back to them in the most dignified manner.

Halifa Sallah, National Assembly Member for Serrekunda, said the issue of survival, protection and development of the human being, is the fundamental issue of the 21st century; that people and Government enter into contract to ensure that fundamental issues are addressed. Halifa asserted that if such contract is honoured, society is assured of freedom and justice but deception and injustice on the contrary. He said he remembered the day when Dayda Hydara laid in a pool of blood, the media fraternity was gripped by fear; but that consent and freedom of expression, decided to take a stand and destiny became challenged but impunity ruled over that decision of consent and freedom of expression to stand.

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