Index 2024
58/ 180
Score : 65.53
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator
Index 2023
46/ 180
Score : 71.06
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator

After 22 years of abuse under Yahya Jammeh’s rule, the Gambia has made considerable progress in terms of press freedom. Since 2018, the crime of defamation was declared unconstitutional, attacks on journalists have decreased, and new media outlets have been launched.

Media landscape

Since Adama Barrow’s inauguration as president in January 2017, the state-owned broadcaster has lost its monopoly, and several TV channels and radio stations, privately owned and community-based, have been created. The Gambia now has 45 radio stations, one of which is state-owned; five TV channels, four of which are privately owned; four daily newspapers, the largest of which is The Point; and a newspaper that is published three times a week, The Gambia Daily

Political context

The majority of Gambians regard the country’s media as free and not subject to governmental interference. They operate without censorship and they accurately reflect the country’s diverse opinions. Nevertheless, the government does at times exert pressure on some media outlets. In early 2020, two privately owned radio stations, King FM and Home Digital FM, were suspended for one month, and their directors were detained for four days for “inciting hatred” by covering protests organised by opposition parties. The government does not particularly target the media, but there is no political will to protect journalists by adopting laws that safeguard their interests. 

Legal framework

In 2021, the Access to Information was adopted, a historic moment in a country that, for the first time, recognised the right of access to information as a human right. However, it has not yet been implemented. Likewise, as the new constitution has not yet been adopted, its safeguards have yet to take effect. In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that criminal penalties for defamation were unconstitutional, as was criminalising use of the Internet to criticise or spread false information about government officials. This was also a notable step forward, tempered by the fact that draconian media laws passed under Yahya Jammeh remain in effect and still carry prison sentences for journalists. Despite freedom of expression, leading media outlets, aware of this legislative pressure, censor themselves in certain cases.

Economic context

The Gambian media have been facing significant financial difficulties due to a lack of subsidies, high taxes, and expensive printing equipment, whose prices keep on rising. Furthermore, the financial crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic led to a drop in advertising revenue. In response to this situation, for the first time since independence in 1965, the government allocated a subsidy of approximately 270,000 euros to the media in July 2020.


While arbitrary arrests and detentions, and even forced disappearances, were common under Yahya Jammeh, the number of threats and attacks against journalists has sharply decreased. Journalists can still be easily threatened with legal action and are still often treated brutally by security forces. In December 2021, the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission recommended that an investigation be opened with the aim of prosecuting the state agents who participated, among other crimes, in the 2004 murder of former RSF correspondent Deyda Hydara, the arson of Radio 1 FM and the attacks on The Independent newspaper. In a historic verdict in November 2023, one of those responsible for the assassination of Deyda Hydara was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment by a German court.