The Gambia Press Union is concerned by comments made by Ousainou Darboe, the leader of the UDP, describing a Star FM talk show host as someone who dislikes his party and members of the Mandinka ethnic group.
Mr. Darboe also accused the journalist, Pa Nderry Touray, of trying to cause divisions in his United Democratic Party, as he addressed new UDP National Assembly Members at his house along Kairaba Avenue on Friday, April 15, 2022.
The GPU condemns in the strongest terms the actions of the UDP leader. Darboe and all other politicians are being urged to desist from such rhetoric targeted at journalists because they incite their supporters to either physically or verbally assault journalists.
In recent years, the GPU has observed and documented a disturbing trend of political rhetoric from political leaders, with others accusing journalists or certain media houses of bias and unfavourable coverage – a stark reminder of how the dictatorship of Yahya Jammeh gradually started its onslaught against the media.
Over the last five years, a good number of physical and verbal assaults on journalists and media professionals recorded in more than 15 incidents were perpetrated by politicians and their supporters, with impunity.
To avoid these attacks on journalists, the GPU has been engaging politicians on an annual basis to discuss the safety of journalists covering and reporting on the activities of their political parties.
The latest of these engagements was held just last month (on March 11) attended by participants from registered political parties and independent candidates.
“The GPU is urging politicians to lead by example in promoting and protecting journalists from verbal attacks that are likely to expose them to further attacks, physically,” GPU President Muhammed S. Bah said.
“Political party leaders have a responsibility to protect journalists from attacks, and must not be seen to be the instigators of verbal or physical attacks against journalists.”
The GPU is also urging journalists to respect and uphold their code of conduct, the Cherno Jallow Charter of Ethics for Journalists, remain apolitical and to avoid any form of bias or other unethical practices that may likely expose them to further risks.