Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - The DCAF-Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance, in partnership with the European Union, Tuesday handed over a media guidebook for journalists to the Gambia Press Union GPU at a ceremony held at the Action Aid The Gambia head office, Kanifing, 10km from here.
The book is to serve as a guide for the journalists in The Gambia to report accurately and factually on issues of security sector reform (SSR) and governance in the country.
In December 2016, through a democratic election, The Gambians voted for a new coalition government bringing an end former President Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year autocratic regime.
The former Gambian leader’s rule was characterized by gross human rights violations, including torture, disappearance, disregard for the rule of law, interference with all arms of government, and a limit on press freedom.
Upon assuming power in February 2017, The Gambian new government headed by President Adama Barrow reiterated its dedication to transitional justice and democratic reforms.
This included a reform of the security sector and good security sector governance.
Speaking at the event here Tuesday, the European Union ambassador to The Gambia, Atilla Lajos, said the handing of the media guide on SSR to the journalists through the Gambia Press Union was a clear manifestation of the importance of the role of the media.
He said “there can be no faith in government if the highest of it citizens are excused from scrutiny”, urging journalists to set the example of transparency.
Lajos said the context of the security sector and the role of the media was particularly important, adding that they believed that transparency in general was needed to create trust, dialogue and transparency in the security sector.
He further said media information was an effective tool for the citizens to participate in decision making on key issues related to public safety and security and also to challenge journalists if necessary.
“A strong media is not only beneficial for the public but also for security institutions themselves,” he said.
Pansaw Nyassi, Interim Country Head DCAF, reiterated the importance of the media in the security sector reforms, adding that for this process to be successful, the media’s participation in security sector discourse should be meaningful, constructive and long-term.
He said if the media took part in the process, it would become transparent, participatory and democratic, adding that this would contribute to meaningful security sector reform and greater accountability, leading to improved peace and security for the Gambian population.
However speaking on the main objective of the guidebook, he said it would improve factual reporting by the media and foster informed public debate.
He added that it also aims to enhance the media’s meaningful engagement with security sector institutions and to strengthen the non-hostile and constructive relations between the media and security sector institutions.
Momodou Badjie, National Security Adviser, described the security sector reform as one of the most important sectors in governance reform.
He noted that the security should be able to deliver the needs and aspirations of the Gambian people.
According to him, journalists have a key role to play in the deliberation of their work and to disseminate information and get the feedback of the public as far as the SSR was concerned.
The representative of the GPU, Mustapha Mbye, who is also chairman of the Ethics Panel of GPU, described the ceremony as historic, adding that anything that had to do with providing members of the union to do their work efficiently and with ethical standard was really welcome.
Mbye urged members of the media to ensure that they abided by the guides of the book to make their news stories more ethical.
“We must admit as media personnel that ethical standards are not followed the way they are supposed to be followed but we need to adjust ourselves, especially when it comes to Security Sector Reform reporting.”
He commended the DCAF and the EU for their valued support for the Gambian media.
-0- PANA MSS/RA 26Nov2019