Three days of talks and discussions on the way forward is no easy feat, as I do have a lot to say, I’ll go directly into my report.
Our three years and three months of tenure have been very eventful, very visible, most times
under the microscopic view of State and other interested parties and as such had us on our toes, at all times. This, tiring as it may be, must be a good thing as we always felt pushed to deliver and to be upfront in our dealings with our membership, partners and the State.
CAPACITY BUILDING AND TRAINING
Strengthening Freedom of Expression Protection in The Gambia
The GPU in partnership with ARTICLE 19 (main applicant) applied for support under the EU
Non-State Actors Programme to jointly implement programmes in Freedom of Expression,
Media Standards, safety and security of journalists and advocacy.
Strengthen and protect freedom of expression in The Gambia in order to promote
transparent and accountable government;
defend their right to freedom of expression and protect themselves against censorship
international obligation to protect freedom of expression;
Increase quality of national and international awareness about freedom of expression in
Three training workshops are to be conducted under this project: Freedom of Expression
Standards training, the safety & security training and the advocacy training. Trainees (the best of the team) will also get other incentives such as work placements in the Article 19 Dakar Office, some Senegalese media and advocacy institutions to enable them better understand and appreciate the role of the journalist, strengthened and capacitated press union, members.
Under this partnership, ARTICLE 19 will transfer 20,610 Euros to the GPU based on the
following timeline: (a) 40% (8,244 Euros) two weeks upon signing of the contract and receipt of the initial project funds from the European Commission (b) 50% (10, 305 Euros) two weeks upon submission of first progress report (c) 10% upon receipt and approval of all outputs, final narrative and financial report from the European Commission.
Coordinate the organization of training programmes including selection of participants·
Conduct monitoring of FoE trends in The Gambia and draft reports·
Supervise local project staff·
Reach out to media houses and other civil society organizations and government officials·
The project started in April 2011 and first course announcement for the Freedom of Expression training with the deadline for applications Friday, June 24, 2011.
Media for Development – Development for Media (GPU/GAMES Partnership Project II)
Training of Trainers (Professional Reporter) Course:·
MEDIA (GPU/GAMES Partnership Project II), is the ongoing training of trainers two-year
diploma course for 20 Gambian journalists. A direct response to an acutely felt need in the
Gambian media, where at the time, there was no structured basic journalism education in The
Gambia, the Union in its application of this project felt it was high time we took a decisive step to ameliorate the poor situation of the media in The Gambia.
applications. All applicants were invited for written tests as well as an oral interview; only 20
candidates made the grade and were enrolled for the course that started in December 2009.
The entire course (Professional Reporter) is divided into four semesters of 4-6 months each.
Each semester the trainees take courses in core journalism skills, pedagogy and general
knowledge. The multi-disciplinary approach is meant to enrich and deepen the
trainees’ understanding of the issues that shape and influence the practice of journalism.
Four of the trainees have been officially expelled from the course due to poor academic
performance or indiscipline or both. Each trainee is expected to, at the at the end of the two years be able to teach as well as practise journalism. So that when the GPU School of Journalism is up and running, the bests of the trainees can serve as assistant tutors under the guidance of seasoned trainers.
Training of GPU Executive and Staff·
training sessions on management, entrepreneurship, resource mobilization, advocacy and
lobbying. So far, two sessions have been held. The first session was on management, while the second session was on strategic planning during which the 2011-2013 Strategic Plan was
formulated. A local consultant is hired for this component of the project.
project in both Denmark and The Gambia. Tickets for the Danish trainers, their accommodation, their per diems, their malaria vaccination and their insurance, project monitoring, project evaluation, auditing in Denmark and administration take up DKK 302, 159 (approximately 1,208,636 Dalasis) By contrast, the investment in the computer laboratory and other accessories, awards ceremony, stipend for trainees, training sessions for GPU executives, publications of articles, salaries for local staff, auditing in The Gambia and telecommunications cover DKK 696, 141(2,784,564 Dalasi)
Institutional Capacity Building·
1. 15 flat screen Computers
2. Flat Screen TV
4. Overhead Projector
5. DVD Player
6. Wifi (monthly internet connection)
No Cost Extension, Games GPU Partnership·
GPU/GAMES partnership activity and that the project cycle was to end in October 2008, we
approached GAMES, our implementing partner to consult DANIDA on the possibility of a five month extension of the project cycle to March 2009. This was approved and the new leadership took this opportunity to put in place mechanisms allowing a more targeted capacity building of an effective organisation for:
1. Management, administration and accounting
2. Project development planning and implementation
3. Income generation
4. Networking for media development with national and international partners.
management and project development, and we jointly worked on the first ever GPU Stratic Plan 2009-2011. The Secretary General of including consultants from the neighbouring Senegalese SYMPICS (Syndicats des Médias et des Professionnels de l’Information et de la Communication du Sénégal) also came on board as a consultant to train the new executive on Collective Bargaining Techniques.
The training, proposed to have been held on 2nd to 12th November 2008, was to be supported by the International Media Support and two GAMES volunteers. For the IMS to release the
allocated funds and to enable the trainers plan their sessions, the GRTS was required to, through its director general or an appointee, responsible for training, fundamentally approve of the project and its time frame (November 2nd to 12th 2008) by signing the attached contract with his/her signature by September 15th 2008.
The Union and the Gambian media lost out on much needed funds and inputs to strengthen the capacity of our public media.
The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) in partnership with the GPU and the Foundation for Legal Aid, Research and Empowerment (FLARE) launched, in November 2010 a 20-month programme to equip media workers in The Gambia with human and material resources to enable the Union in particular and Gambian journalists generally respond with greater effectiveness to repressive and punitive media laws.
Due to some concerns of the GPU in particular the fact that we were not involved in the
recruitment process etc, the negotiation was a long process. The project took off in November
2010 with Mr Alieu Sagnia as country director. The Gambia Press Union is the major partner,
while the Foundation for Legal Aid, Research and Empowerment (FLARE) is an associate
partner. The funds of the project are independently handled by its coordinator and the fund
providers. Under this project, the GPU receives a sub grant of 10,800 US Dollars. This amount is payable in quarterly installments is paid to assist with office operating costs such as rent, utilities and GPU staff support to the project. Out of the 5400 US Dollars received so far, 3895 US Dollars has been spent on rent, extending the tenancy of the GPU Secretariat until September 2012.
The GPU applied and benefitted from a UNDP/AAITG/ACDHRS implemented UNDEF
programme to raise the Capacity of mass Media in promoting human rights and good
Under this programme, capacity assessment exercises focusing on the management capacity,
operational/ organizational capacity, adaptive capacity, advocacy capacity as well as (financial) reporting capacity was undertaken. Specific training programmes, manuals and procedures were drawn out including a Human Resources and Financial Management Manual were produced and are now used by the Union Secretariat.
Between May 25th and June 2nd 2009, as a beneficiary of the UNDEF project implemented by Action Aid, The Gambia, the executive and staff of the Gambia Press Union (GPU) benefited from a training course on Resources Mobilization.
executive and staff:
Formulated and developed a fundraising strategy and plan·
Acquired skills in project proposal writing·
Identified mechanisms to strengthen relationships with partners/donors·
Identified and targeted diverse sources of funding·
The GPU Fund Raising Strategy was validated on December 2 2009 at a workshop which
brought together the Union leadership, staff, members, advisors and partners.
The project was aligned with the Governance and Human Rights component of the 2007-2011 UNDAF and UNDP’s country programme core areas of focus.
The rife self-censorship due to a genuine misunderstanding and or lack of understanding of
media related laws, even within private media entities has perpetuated a poor representation of salient issues affecting Gambians. The critical state and threatening legal circumstances which the Gambian media continues to find itself requires sustainable new ways and channels of intervention that will a) not require a high level of cooperation with Gambian authorities and b) effectively influence media practitioners understanding of the laws governing the environment within which they operate, and the context in which national media and communications related laws and policies relating to the media and other issues of concern to the media - freedom of expression, human rights, good governance - exist and the influence that the GPU and other concerted actions can have upon them.
The prosecution of journalists is a major factor affecting freedom of expression, recent cases
where journalists have found themselves in conflict with the law include the Lamin Fatty
‘Publication of False Material” trial, the Sedition charges against Fatou Jaw Manneh and the
trial of Seditious Intention of Today Editor, AbdulHamid Adiamoh, at the time pushed the Union executive into organizing ad-hoc legal training sessions
Partly due to these, the Union on an ad-hoc basis in 2008/2010 organized training
sessions/seminar to enlighten our executive, publishers, editors and general membership on the basics of the laws affecting them in the course of their work, how to take advantage of and find ways of better navigating around these to avoid becoming victims of the law.
In November 2009, the Union conducted a one week training activity for its executive, staff and members on online security. Costing US$6,100, the activity was financed by the US Embassy.
As part of its engagement with Media Owners following a consultative exercise with our
members and a bid to negotiate for better salaries and working conditions, the Union was
astounded by the daunting challenges and difficulties faced by the Newspapers in accessing and affording purchase of printing materials in particular newsprints, plates and inks, through the importation, storage and distribution of newsprints to private print media houses.
organize and form the Gambia Editor’s Forum, establishment of a modern printing press facility to print all private newspapers and magazines and provision of technical support. It will also build and strengthen the professionalism of media practitioners, mainstream human rights advocacy of gender issues in their operations, as well as enhance the institutional capacity of the Media Houses in general.
of the private press on social, governance and development issues.
In March of 2009, the Union had approached the US Embassy, British High Commission and the IMS for support of a grant of US$ 19,600 of its Gamprint Project with the main rationale being that participating media houses will invest the accrued savings on improving the working conditions, environment of journalists and pay higher wages.
To reduce the price of newsprints substantially (up to 38%) in order to ascertain the·
economic viability of media houses thus strengthening them in the process.
To ensure that print media houses publish their newspapers regularly and on time.·
To improve newspaper sales, increase production and circulation figures.·
To strengthen the Editors’ Forum and the bond between the media houses by bringing·
them together for a common purpose.
To strengthen the position of the GPU within the media fraternity.·
Under the United States Democracy and Human Rights Fund, The Gambia Press Union a grant of 19, 600 US Dollars was approved by the US Embassy in August of 2009 of which US$ 14,105 was earmarked for Gamprint.
The Union would like to thank Foroyaa, The Standard and Today newspapers for patronizing the GAMPRINT Project. Only 90 reams are left from the first consignment. The first set of the second consignment arrived on the night of Sunday, June 19 2011. Evidently, the project has got off to a good start and all indications are that if we continue the good management of it, we will in the long term achieve our goal of engaging the media houses for the improved livelihoods of our members.
The GPU last month received a printing press from the US Embassy in Banjul. Recently
installed at the premises of the Standard Newspaper, the Union due to its earlier experiences has decided to run and manage the printing press. A fully fledged printing staff including operations manager, printers, lithographers, compilers will be recruited in order to commence work as early as beginning of July 2011.
Prior to this, the GPU Printing machine which was also donated by the embassy in August of
2006, was initially run by the Point Newspaper and later moved to Today Newspaper due to a
lack of accountability and failure to meet with contractual arrangements on the part of the two media houses.
Two main sources of revenue for the Union are membership subscription and the printing press. At D10 per month with a membership of 200, the annual revenue from membership subscription is 24,000 Dalasi. The annual payment for the printing press is 100,000 Dalasi. So the total annual revenue of the Union is 124, 000.
STATE OF THE MEDIA
The GPU Six:
June/Sep 2009 - Sarata Jabbi-Dibba, GPU Vice President; Bai Emil Touray, Secretary General; Pa Modou Faal, Treasurer; Sam Sarr, editor, Foroyaa Newspaper; Pap Saine and Ebrima Sawaneh Publisher and Editor were charged with "seditious publication", and two additional two charges of conspiracy to Commit Criminal Defamation and Criminal Defamation.
These events followed the Union’s response to President Jammeh’s televised (GRTS), June 8
comments on the murder of/investigations into the death of former Union chairman Deyda
Hydara. A seventh journalist, Abubacarr Saidy Khan (Foroyaaa) was also initially detained,
charged and later acquitted.
GMD 805231.50 (US$23,990) distributed evenly amongst all six journalists upon their release.
February 2009, Pap Saine, Publisher of The Point Newspaper was called for questioning by the officers of the Serious Crime Unit re: his nationality and other stories related to the recalling of 3 Gambians working in the Gambian embassy in Dakar.
During the investigations, Police had asked him to produce his birth certificate, his father’s
passport and title deeds. During this period, Pap who has severe health conditions had also seen some deterioration in his condition which only worsened later that year when he was one of the 6 journalists, arrested and detained.
On June 16 2009, Abdul Hamid Adiamoh, managing editor of Today newspaper was convicted and fined by Magistrate Sainabou Wadda- Ceesay of the Kanifing Magistrate court to pay the sum of D50, 000 or in default serve 6 months imprison.
This development follows his plea of guilty to charges of false publication and broadcasting
levied against him by the state. Mr Adiamoh was arrested on 10 June 2009 after his paper published that Secretaries of State for Justice, and the Local Government and Land- Mrs and Mr Marry Saine Firdaus and Mr Ismaila Sambou were sacked from their position.
Following the publication the police detained Mr Adiamoh, charged him and taken to court
yesterday and convicted today. He was given yesterday a court bail of D10, 000
In her ruling, Magistrate Wadda- Ceesay acknowledged the efforts of Mr Adiamoh to medicine the situation after realising his errors, but cautioned journalists to always verify their stories before publishing them.
Fatou J. Manneh a US based Gambian journalist was arrested by National Intelligence Agency (NIA) officers on her arrival from the USA at the international airport in the capital Banjul on 28 March 2007.
Yahya Jammeh. On 18 August 2008, Fatou Jaw Manneh, was given a four year prison sentence for ‘sedition'; fined and released for writing articles critical of the President.
Fatou avoided imprisonment as the GPU paid the hefty fine of GMD 250,000. Family members and an anonymous donor also contributed.
The exodus of Gambian journalists moving out of the country due to the unfavorable
environment continues to increase yearly. Between 2008 and 2010, those that the Union can
directly verify that their exile is linked to their work include Buya Jammeh, Kemo Cham, Abba Gibba, Momodou Justice Darboe, Sarata Jabbi-Dibba, Modou Nyang and Ndey Tapha Sosseh.
Buya Jammeh, Kemo Cham and Momodu Justice Darboe have all received financial support
from the IMS, IFJ, International Pen and CPJ.
The stalling into the investigations of the murder of Deyda Hydara on December 16, 2004 still continue to be a major concern for the Union. We continue our call on the Gambian authorities to ensure that no stone is unturned in these investigations and welcome the recent
announcement of the UK, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) that the Gambia
Government have technically accepted their offer of independent expertise and investigations.
The Union in 2008/2009 and 2010 celebrated every year the anniversary of the murder of Deyda Hydara by organizing symposia and issuing statements.
The disappearance of Chief Ebrima Manneh, the Gambia Governments refusal to implement the decisions of the ECOWAS Court pertaining to his disappearance by refusing to release and compensate him US$200,000 is a worrying phenomenon.
Chief Manneh on the day of his disappearance 6 July 2006 was picked up by Plain Clothes
security personnel from his Place of work the Daily Observer. The Union, through GPU USA
has since 2008 maintained financial, household support for the Manneh family as chief was said to have been, at the time, the only working member and therefore breadwinner of his extended family.
highlighted. He, like Deyda, was honoured by The African Editors Forum in October 2010 with the “‘Hero of African Journalism Award’.
Senator Richard Durbin of the US, also brought the issue of the continued detention of Chief
Ebrima Manneh and unsolved murder off Deyda Hydara to the attention of the US Senate in July 2008 asking the Senate to focus its attention on a tragic story from the small “West African nation of The Gambia.” He told the Senate that he agrees with Amnesty International’s consideration of Chief Ebrima Manneh as a prisoner of conscience and has called for his immediate release.
These arrests, detentions and charges make it extremely difficult for private medis to operate
freely in The Gambia and to maintain favourable working relationships with the government in spite of all efforts to do so.
Courtesy Calls on State Institutions/Gambia Gov’t Officials
Between March and September of 2008, the union initiated contacts with the State through the department of state communication, information and technology, national assembly and national Security Council. The union leadership expressed its willingness to work with the State institutions to improve the media and government relations.
GPU attended the founding congress of the federation of African Journalists in Nairobi and was represented by the GPU president. I am glad to report to this congress, the GPU president was not only an elected officer of FAJ as treasurer but also the candidate that got the highest number of vote among 9 candidates.
April 20-23 2009, upon identification of the regional journalists Group, I, alongside journalists from the East, Central, Southern, North Africa regions represented the FAJ at the Johannesburg +10 Conference All-Africa Human Rights Defenders Conference held in Kampala, Uganda.
At this meeting, I was elected into the steering committee of the All Africa Human Rights
Defenders Network (AHRD-Net), representing the journalists’ group. AHRD-Net is the
coordinating unit of the existing and functioning African human rights defenders networks. Its secretariat is hosted by East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRDNet) in Kampala.
investigative reporter Fabakary Ceesay to participate in meetings of the West Africa Chapter of the network.
As president of the GPU and second vice president of WAJA, I stepped down from the WAJA Executive board in March of 2009 following an appointment to serve as the Association’s Print Press Expert in its Project in Bamako, Mali.
General, Bai Emil Touray, replaced me in the WAJA Executive.
In April 2010, WAJA held its Congress in Dakar and despite the fact the fact that the GPU
presented its Secretary General as a candidate, he could not obtain the required votes to hold
unto the position.
In September 2008, I participated in an Amnesty International campaign consultative meeting
(Dakar) which served as follow up training on campaign and advocacy training held in The
Gambia in 2007 for media and human rights defenders.
Amnesty has been a staunch defender of Gambian journalists, recognizing Chief Ebrima Manneh as a prisoner of conscience and dedicating a large part of its report on The Gambia 2009 on the state of the media in The Gambia, highlighting in particular the case of the unsolved murder of Deyda Hydara.
Though relations with the parent body have not yet been formalised, Gambian diaspora journalist groups, in particular the GPU USA has been very supportive and vocal on issues concerning journalists on the ground.
The Media Legal Defence Initiative has also been a key partner of the Gambia Press Union,
giving financial support and legal aid when called upon. Representing GPU, I was part of the
launch team of MLDI in New York in January 2009.
between June and September 2009, the Union in collaboration with the Committee to Protect
Journalists, Media Foundation for West Africa, International Pen, Open Society Justice Initiative
(West Africa Bureau), FAMEDEV (Inter Africa Network for Women, Media ,Gender and
Development) and some of the partners mentioned above brainstormed and worked together on potential ways forward which included media advocacy, lobbying regional and international groups such as the ECOWAS, AU, ACHPR, UN, EU and foreign governments with missions in The Gambia.
The GPU was to hold this Congress in March of 2011, due to the nature of the activity we
wanted to hold and the financial resources involved, we had to shift the dates, upon consultation with members to June of this year.
We received support totaling Euro 4000 from the IFJ Africa Office for this event.
It is interesting to note that this year, as in the Congress of 2008, there was a keen demonstration in the union’s activities in the months leading up to Congress. We do hope, that like the years gone by, this interest will not wane after the Congress but that the zeal and the willingness on the part of the membership will continue and manifest itself in you taking ownership of the union.
As indicated in my opening remarks, service without checks and balances is of no use to you the leader and those you lead, therefore I am proud that the Gambia Press Union over the years has entrenched internal democracy, transparency in its dealings and stock taking as an integral part of the nature and functioning of our great Institution.
Of course there have been and there will always be the detractors, but as my policy has been andits one that I tried to push within this executive, no amount of distraction will push us into losing our focus, our resolve to deliver on the mandate that we accepted and sought you to trust us with. Since we came in as GPU leaders in March 2008, our main priority was to be make decisions, as an entity and to consult each other at all times in a very transparent, honest manner and at all times putting the interests of our membership first.
I would be unfair to my team, Sarata Jabbi-Dibba, Modou Nyang, Bai Emil Touray, Lamin Njie, Madi Njie, Pa Modou Faal, Buya Jammeh and Amie Sanneh if I do not single them out for their steadfastness and commitment to duty. It has been hard, long and tumultuous but we have arrived, and we have made a difference, I congratulate you all. The same goes to our dedicated staff, executive director Aloa Ahmed Alota, Fatma Tambedou, Accountant, Nellie Grant, Librarian/Secretary, Isatou Njie, cleaner. Our ICFJ partners Alieu Sagnia and Chilel… who also share our office space with us.
Unreserved thanks must be for GPU advisors Sam Sarr, Demba Jawo, Swaebou Conateh, Cherno Jallow, Amie Joof and George Christensen. Their experience, expertise and visionary outlook has at many times, dampened the fiery spirit with which this young executive would normally jump on issues and probably have acted differently.
success that we have registered and every milestone gained, I thank our local partners in
particular the US Embassy, British High Commission, UNDP (UNDEF Project team), ActionAid The Gambia, UNESCO/NATCOM, Unique Solutions, FLARE,
and that will continue to be heard, we therefore thank the IFJ, FAJ, WAJA, SYNPICS, Amnesty International, GAMES (Danida), Article 19, CPJ, International Pen, OSIWA, OSJI, Reuters, RSF.
- Delivered via Skype