Gambia: UNESCO official says respect for human rights vital for sustainable development

Banjul, Gambia(PANA) - For nations to ensure lasting peace and sustainable development, human rights must be respected and people must be free to seek, receive and impart knowledge and information on all media, according to the director of UNESCO regional office for West Africa, Gwang-Chol Chang.

“Quality journalism enables citizens to make informed decisions about their society and contribution to development. It also works to expose, injustice, corruption and the abuse of power,” Chang said on Wednesday in Banjul, during delivery of media equipment provided by the European Union to the Gambian media capacity building project.

The project is part of a wider 10 million euro governance programme financed by the EU, covering several components such as   Access to Justice and Legal Education, Journalism and Media, and Public Financial Management.

Primary beneficiaries of this project include media houses, newspapers, community radios, the Gambia Press Union, and the University of Gambia's School of Journalism.

Chang said that UNESCO looked forward to accompanying Gambia's Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure in fostering a dynamic media landscape.

Speaking at the same function, Attile Lajos, Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to the Gambia, said “a critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of democracy."

Underlining press freedom from state interference, he said that the media "must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishment of government officials and it must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold  and inquiring without fear of favour and  must enjoy the protection of the constitution, so  that it can protect the rights of citizens.”

According Lajos, the project will promote excellence in journalism and innovative curricula, as supporting journalism education is an important part of developing a free and independent media, that also reinforces gender equality.

Meanwhile, Fatou Kinneh-Jobe, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure, said the Gambia is poised to take advantage of the pronouncement by President Adama Barrow that “the media, both public and private, shall enjoy freedom to disseminate divergent views and dissenting opinion as required by the constitution.”

She commended the EU and UNESCO for strengthening the media and University of the Gambia School of Journalism as well as digital media.

-0- PANA MSS/AR 22Feb2017

22 february 2017 17:25:49

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