Gambia: Gambia Press Union asks government to establish ownership of Daily Observer

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - Transparency of media ownership is not only important for media freedom, but also for the protection and promotion of the rights and welfare of it members, the Gambia Press Union (GPU) said on Monday in a statement.

The GPU also called on the government to establish the ownership of the country’s first daily, Daily Observer, which was ordered to cease operation from 14 June 2017 by the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) over tax arrears.

The press body advised the authorities to engage the management of Daily Observer through the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure (MoICI) and Ministry of Justice.

At the same time, the GPU announced its withdrawal from negotiations on the daily’s tax liabilities with immediate effect.

The statement noted that GPU has since been facilitating dialogue between the management of the Daily Observer and the GRA in order to work out a realistic payment plan so that the newspaper could resume operation.

Though no deal has been reached, GRA has commendably allowed the Daily Observer to resume operations, the statement said.

“However, the founding fathers of the GPU established this reputable organisation on the principles of freedom, truth, integrity and honesty. Therefore, when initiating our intervention for the re-opening of Daily Observer, it was our hope and expectation that the talks would be based on truth and honesty.

“Unfortunately, the GPU has been forced to withdraw from the talks due to the incorrigible behaviour of the leadership of the Daily Observer,” the statement revealed

The GPU commended the GRA and Daily Observer for their willingness to engage with the union, saying that the GPU’s position remains that" shutting down Daily Observer is not an option to be explored at this point."

“Closure would be a disproportionate measure as the harm that it would cause to free expression and welfare of journalists would outweigh the benefits. The Daily Observer has more than hundred media workers whose welfare and interests should be of paramount consideration,” the statement added.
-0- PANA MSS/AR 17July2017

17 july 2017 16:47:47

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