Legislation needs overhauling
Gambia has continued to progress despite some notable press freedom violations in 2019. Since dictator Yahya Jammeh’s departure in January 2017, the new president, Adama Barrow, has begun realizing his promise to create an environment that favours the media’s development. The state radio and TV no longer have a broadcast news monopoly and several community and privately-owned radio and TV stations have been created. In May 2018, the supreme court ruled that the criminalization of defamation was unconstitutional but, despite the good intentions expressed by Barrow, the long awaited overhaul of legislation that violates press freedom has yet to materialize.
Of the more than 100 journalists who fled abroad during the dictatorship, at least 30 have been able to return. Nonetheless, the old habits from 23 years of terror and suppression of press freedom have not yet fully disappeared. Two privately-owned radio stations, King FM and Home Digital FM, were closed for a month in early 2020 and their managers were arrested for allegedly inciting hate in their coverage of protests organized by opposition political parties. A foreign journalist’s press accreditation was rescinded because his TV channel was regarded as having a pro-opposition bias. An army officer meanwhile confessed to Gambia’s truth and reconciliation commission that, acting on President Jammeh’s orders, he carried out the 2004 murder of Deyda Hydara, a leading Gambian journalist who was RSF’s correspondent. RSF is calling for Jammeh, now living in exile in Equatorial Guinea, to be extradited back to Gambia because of his role in the deaths of several journalists.
92 in 2019
31.35 in 2019