- National and international media stakeholders are protesting the enforcement of an act that will establish a feared National Media Commission in The Gambia. The Commission will have unprecedented powers to impose sanctions, including shutting down news media.
In a joint protest, the Media Foundation for West Africa and the UK-based group Article 19 today reiterated their concerns over the Enforcement of the Act establishing the National Media Commission of The Gambia.
The letter calls on media and human rights organisations to support the Gambia Press Union in their boycott of the Media Commission until the present Act is repealed. "Radical revisions need to be made in order for the legislation to meet international press freedom standards and to ensure media freedom in The Gambia," the letter says.
In June this year, the government of President Yahya Jammeh went ahead to inaugurate the National Media Commission without representatives of the Gambia Press Union and the Gambia Bar Association.
Recently, the Secretary of the Media Commission, Basiru Jobe, has requested that journalists start registering in order to be able to carry out their profession. He also urged the independent media to register with the Commission.
The Gambia Press Union is currently challenging the constitutionality of the Act before the Supreme Court of The Gambia. The Union has been hoping to prevent or at least drag out the implementation of the law.
- The Act in its present form is incompatible with international standards, the two media watchdog groups say in their protest letter. "It is one the most draconian examples of media legislation on the Continent."
MFWA and Article 19 add that the Acts many problems "include the lack of independence of the Media Commission, the quasi-judicial powers conferred to it and the mandatory licensing conditions it imposes on individual journalists."
From the moment it was set up, the Media Commission was to have the authority to shut down news media or withdraw their licences and issue arrests warrants against journalists. No media would be able to operate without a licence issued yearly by the Commission.
The President of the Commission originally was to be named by President Jammeh himself and answer to him. An amendment to the law foresaw that it now should be the Supreme Court President who is to appoint the Commission's leader.
Gambian journalists on several occasions have taken to the streets to condemn this law. The Gambia Press Union says the law is designed to "gag the independent press" in the country. The Union further urges journalists and independent media not to register with the Commission as the case is still pending at the Supreme Court.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.