By Saikou Ceesay
Journalist Babucarr Ceesay
It is amid heightening gossip about the country's democratic deficiency at both local and international levels, Gambia Affairs caught up with a senior journalist, Mr.Babucarr Ceesay; who added his voice to the very many voices by calling on The Gambian authorities to cure the democratic injuries it has sustained by establishing an independent judiciary system.
Ceesay gathered a wealth of experience after practising journalism for thirteen (13) years in different newspapers in The Gambia. He is the Publisher/Editor of Gambiawatchdog online newspaper, link www.gambiawatchdog.yolasite.com .Mr.Ceesay is now working as an independent investigative journalist in The Gambia. He told Gambia Affairs that the country's judiciary system is not free and independent.
According to Ceesay it is a common phenomenon to see judges sacked without following the due legal procedure. He said the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is a sensitive institution, and its Chairpersons are also subjected to removal by President Yahya Jammeh any time he deems fit.Ceesay believes that fear for a rough political play field will remains as long as President Jammeh has the power to change heads of an electoral commission at will.
He added: "The state own Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) which is operating at the expense of purse of the tax payers is not serving the interest of these tax payers. It is a known fact that the masses need enlightenment in terms of civic education, how their tax money is utilize, giving a platform to express themselves. These are some of the issues that need to be considered".
"Human rights defenders are quiet"
"Environment in which Gambian journalists operate in"
For Ceesay it is challenging to operate as a journalist in The Gambia, considering the lack of facilities and the blockages to access information, and the threats such as the possibility of being dragged to court for ones opinion or the news one report or published.
He said the materials needed for the job such as digital cameras, recorders, lap tops among others to facilitate the execution of their work are not readily available. Ceesay indicated that these materials are not available to average journalists and as a result they rely on pen and notebook to do news gathering.
Ceesay said the environment in which journalists operate is improving compared to the past.
"In the past you hardly see a young journalist traveling abroad for training. Now at least we have some young journalists who benefited from such trainings. In fact there are lots of young editor emerging in different local media outlets," he said.
He maintained that press freedom still remains a challenge and that people need to be free enough to set up a media house but the bond attached to the establishment of a media house has been increased from D100, 000 to D500, 000.This he said is a major hurdle for skilled journalists who want to set up media houses.
"I believe rights are still violated under our own nurses, cases like the murder of Editor Deyda Hydara, the disappearance of Ebrima Chief Manneh and the whereabouts of Kanyiba Kanyi should all be seriously investigated and the culprit be brought to justice.
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