When one is not convinced of one’s ability to combat ideas with ideas, one must resort to suppressing freedom of expression and freedom of the media.
It is a constitutional right for a state to guarantee the freedom of the media. This is guaranteed under section 207 of the Constitution which reads: “The freedom and independence of the press and other information media are hereby guaranteed.”
This is further buttressed under section 25(1), paragraph (a): “Every person shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of the press and other media.”
It is the duty of a government and its agents to enforce such provisions.
In a democratic society, a government that resorts to impunity would ultimately be uprooted by the power of the people. Any government which aims to survive by suppressing the media will only succeed in exposing its intolerance and will ultimately be discredited.
The closure of three media houses, so far, namely, Taranga FM, Hilltop FM and Paradise FM is reflecting the state of desperation of those whose role should be to protect the exercise of freedom of the media and expression. There is nothing to be gained by this at a time when the outgoing government is trying to win many people on its side. This action defies common sense, logic and law. There is, however, consolation that on the 19 January a new political dispensation will emerge in the country that would open up the state media to divergent views and dissenting opinion. This will further create an open society where radio and television stations would sprout like mushrooms to enable the Gambian people to have access to information so that they will be able to make informed choices at all times.