June 2, 2021

Leader of the Gambian delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament, Kebba K. Barrow, has said his country had no private television stations before 2017, but according to him now television licenses have been issued to five private TV stations.

“There are currently Twenty-Six (26) Commercial Radio Stations and Nine (9) Community Radios in the country. There were six private newspapers in the country before 2017, and now we have 11 since the change of Government,” the leader added.

Mr.  Barrow made this statement whist presenting the Gambia’s report to the plenary of the regional ECOWAS Parliament.

The report borders on a host of issues which include the political, economic, security and human rights situation of The Gambia, legal reforms and ratifications as well as implementation of protocols among others.

Meanwhile, looking at the aspect of Freedom of Expression, The Gambia head of delegation say that such rights is guaranteed in the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia. “There has been a proliferation of private radio stations and newspapers, private television stations, and a host of political discussion programs in which public members are encouraged to call in to express their views about government policies and programs,” he confirmed.

In addition, Barrow said that the print media’s positive results “are also recorded concerning electronic media due to the increment in the number of internet users between 2017 to date.” He said that the improvement in internet penetration and subsequent increase of internet users has prompted a surge in online media platforms, where political discussions are rife among users.

The Gambian Head of Delegation further added that with the remarkable progress in Freedom of Expression, the Government has gone further and embarked on media law reform to facilitate the exercise of the right to freedom of expression. “Access to Information Bill is currently before the National Assembly and will hopefully be enacted into law before the end of 2021,” he confirmed.

Furthermore, The Gambian head of delegation told regional MPs that Government of The Gambia is committed to strengthening existing governance institutions and creating new institutions. “In this regard, the Judiciary, the Independent Electoral Commission, and the Police have restored their independence by allowing them to operate without political interference,” he stressed, whilst adding that “we can report that, currently, there are no political prisoners or reports of political or extrajudicial killings.”

On the ratification and implementation of ECOWAS Protocols and Conventions, Hon. Kebba K, Barrow said that the Government of The Gambia has ratified forty-three (43) Community Protocols and Conventions, out of fifty-four (54). He said that these ratified Protocols and Conventions are being implemented and assured that efforts are being made to ratify the remaining Protocols.

Meanwhile, he stated that “good governance, upholding human rights and strengthening access to justice continue to be government’s priorities.”  Accordingly, he confirmed that strategies are being put in place to enhance and improve human rights, access to justice and good governance for all.