Legislation needs overhauling

Gambia has continued to progress despite some notable press freedom violations in 2020. Since dictator Yahya Jammeh’s departure in January 2017, the new president, Adama Barrow, has begun realising 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 2020, the country had four daily newspapers, a tri-weekly, 33 radio stations and six TV channels. The supreme court has ruled that the criminalisation of defamation is unconstitutional but, despite the good intentions expressed by Barrow, the long-awaited overhaul of legislation that violates press freedom has yet to materialise. Of the more than 100 journalists who fled abroad during the dictatorship, at least 30 have returned. 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 hatred in their coverage of protests organised 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 A foreign journalist’s press accreditation was rescinded because his TV channel was regarded as having a pro-opposition bias.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 worked as 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. A legislative reform bill that was submitted to the national assembly in 2019 is still blocked. For the first time since the country’s independence in 1965, the government granted a subsidy to the media in July 2020 to help them through a financial crisis resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index



87 in 2020

Global score


30.62 in 2020

  • 0
    journalists killed in 2021
  • 0
    citizens journalists killed in 2021
  • 0
    media assistants killed in 2021
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