Media regulatory decree causes controversy

Banjul- Gambia (PANA) -- A decree on media regulation is causing controversy in Gambia.
Enacted early this year by the government in Banjul, the decree demands the media to respect the privacy of individuals and obey laws of the country.
It also threatens journalists with prosecution for failure to disclose their sources of information when officially requested to do so.
The chairman of the Gambia Press Union, Demba A.
Jawo has criticised the decree, which was denounced by Gambian lawyer Emmanuel Joof.
Joof said the decree is villainous, a breach of media freedom, and contrary to President Yahya Jammeh's proclaimed policy of openness.
Most human rights organisations in the country also joined the crusade against the decree, calling for "free and responsible media in Gambia".
They condemned "the will of the authorities to gag the media".
"The government cannot talk about political openness while at the same time it seeks to jeopardise media freedom.
This is paradoxical", noted Lamin Sylla, of the Gambian chapter of Amnesty International.
Reacting to the criticisms, justice minister Joseph Joof said that regulating media activities should not be viewed as jeopardising media freedom, but rather as an attempt "to put the house in order".
Meanwhile, critics of the decree, led by the local chapter of Amnesty International in Banjul, have appealed to the Supreme Court seeking a repeal of the decree.

02 may 2001 13:40:00

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