By Sarjo Camara-Singateh
The EU Ambassador, Attila Lajos, host a breakfast meeting for the Press on Thursday2nd March 2017 at 9 am at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.
The meetings have proven to be a fruitful way to debate contemporary topics of mutual interest and to further deepen the close working relationship between the press and the diplomatic corps. Ambassador said if things worked well the Gambia will be high on the EU’s agenda.
EU Ambassador, Attila Lajos the indicated to the media personnel that EU will work closely with the media to promote cooperation development agenda. He noted that media’s role’s crucial in the democratization process of a nation.
“The European Union will deploy a long-term and short elections observers in the Gambia, ahead of the l elections” he said. The EU ambassador indicated that the mission after their deployment will issue out two public document with a possible recommendations of the country.
He indicated that during the parliamentary election after 48 hours he mission will come with their preliminary report while the overall report will be complied within two to three months.
Ambassador Lajos indicated that two distinctive missions will be visiting the country, one will be EU-ECOWAS and UN reform in the security and a fact-finding need assessment mission on economic and partnership agreements. The Director of Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) Mr. Ebriama Sillah noted that the media legal reform should be spearheaded by the media professional and the Gambia Press Union to produce the needed laws that should be struck out. He opined that there is need for a stakeholder meeting to into this initiative. He stated that there is need for serious capacity building.
Mr. Abdoulie Gassama, of GRTS-Radio also express similar sentiments, he said the society is toxics and the media’s watchdog role is still important to enlighten the grass-roots. He indicated that gone are days when a reporter will come from field without a single laptop to his disposal.
Mr. Bai Emily Touray, the president of the Gambia press Union also expressed the need to law reform and capacity building whilst he acknowledges the EU, support that media houses benefits through UNESCO.
The EU ambassador was accompanied by Enya Braun, Political and Press Officer. The media was represented by various media houses.
From the information gathered from the circumciser Mariama Sura, she informed us that he took oath some three years ago that she has abandoned the female genital mutilation practice. According her, she was persuaded by the Grandfather of the survivor to circumcise the girl as she is a twin partner. The boy was circumcised some three weeks ago and they realised that the girl was acting funnily at home which is not usual so they concluded that because they are twins and whatever is done for one must be done for the other so the girl child was subjected to FGM.
Furthermore, she stated that “I know all the implications attached to circumcision now that there is an Act, and I also understood that a heavy fine awaits the perpetrators”. She concluded that “I told the grandfather that because of the ban I will not subject the child to the practice, but as continued to plead and knowing that he is a relative, I did it; but this has to be done in secret and I don’t know who reported me to the police.
The officers came to my village in Sankuya asking for the details of the incidence which I told them then I was taken Toniataba village to identify the child and the grandfather. Later we went to the police station. The following day the child was taken to the health facility in Soma for examination which revealed that the girl was indeed circumcised. “I am only pleading for mercy. This is a mistake” she said.
Speaking to the grandfather, he indicated that the act was done out of desperate move. “I called on the circumciser to circumcise my granddaughter, she told me that she has stopped the practice but I persisted until she accepted and had the girl circumcised. Late in the evening Police officers from Mansankonko came to the village and I was arrested for the offense and taken to the station. I agree that I made a mistake.