By Kebba Jeffang Following the repeated attempts by this reporter to cover the proceedings of the court martial involving military personnel in order to inform the public on the charges and proceedings, a military guardtold this reporter that he is not instructed to allow the press to give  coverage to the trial  currently taking place at the Fajara Barracks. This was on Friday, 20th February, 2014 when this reporter tried to enter the building in which the court martial is being held but was prevented by two armed military guards at the entrance. “What do you want?” asked one of them. “I am a reporter from Foroyaa Newspaper. I want to cover the proceedings of the court martial,” was the reporter’s reply. “It is not open to the press,” said the soldier. When asked why, he responded that the press cannot enter. In one of the previous attempts to cover the court martial, this reporter was also prevented by a soldier at the gate who said they were not informed by the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) about the presence of the media. However, attempts to contact the PRO on phone were not successful. When this reporter visited the GAF headquarters in Banjul, he was told that the PRO was out of town and could not be reached. A letter has been addressed to the defence headquarters indicating the public interest in the court martial and the desirability for the media to cover and report on the proceedings in the interest of public accountability. A response is yet to be received from headquarters. EDITOR’S NOTE Effort will be made to get a response to know if this barring of media coverage is a policy or an initiative of a guard waiting for instructions.  Needless to say, both the Constitution and the Armed Forces Act make it clear that, under normal circumstances, a court-martial should take place in open court.]]>

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