29.07.2002 - Legislature adopts bill creating national media commission
On 25 July, the Gambian legislature approved a bill creating a national media commission, despite the objections of the country’s journalists. A minor change has been made to the new law: henceforth, it is the president of the supreme court, instead of the Gambian president, who names the president of the commission. The Gambian journalists union has announced that steps have been
initiated with the aim of contesting the new law in the courts.
03.05.2002 - The draconian media bill adopted
The Parliament adopted the bill setting up the National Media Commission, on the 2nd May in the evening. The Gambian journalists’ union is about to make an injunction, so that the law is not enacted until a Supreme court judgement.
30.04.2002 - Media bill seriously threatens press freedom
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called today on the speaker of the Gambian parliament, Sheriff Mustapha Dibba, to do everything he could to block passage of a new press bill that it said would seriously endanger press freedom. "This bill aims to create a National Media Commission that will be a full-scale press court," RSF secretary-general Robert Ménard said in a letter to Dibba. "In no circumstances must a press monitoring body replace regular courts. The extent of the Commission’s powers, with a chairman appointed by the head of state, is a serious threat to press freedom. The bill also violates the Gambian constitution, which guarantees such freedom."
Parliament is due on 2 May to urgently consider the bill setting up the Commission, whose main job will be to rule on complaints against journalists and the media. It will be able to summon journalists to reply to accusations and order them to reveal their sources. It will also draw up a code of conduct for the media and accredit journalists and press organisations. No media outlet will be allowed to operate without an annually renewable licence, which the Commission can suspend or cancel. It can also close down media and impose fines of at least 10,000 dalasis (€610).