Gambia Press Union (GPU) has condemned the recent verbal attack against Pa Nderry Touray, morning show host of Star FM, a radio station based in Banjul, capital of The Gambia.
GPU in an April-16 statement bemoaned the actions of Ousainou Darboe, the leader of the most prominent opposition party, United Democratic Party (UDP), for describing Touray as one who dislikes his party and members of the Mandinka ethnic group of The Gambia.
Mr Daboe is reported to have chided the journalist labeling him as divisive while he addressed new UDP National Assembly Members at his house along Kairaba Avenue on Friday, April 15, 2022.
GPU’s statement which was released a day after Mr Daboe’s verbal attack on Pa Nderry Touray strongly condemned the expressions. The statement emphasized that politicians desist from such attacks on media practitioners as they provoke other attacks against journalists including physical assault and threats of life.
“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,” the statement said.
GPU, which is the umbrella body for journalists in The Gambia, noted over 15 violations against journalists and media professionals recorded in the last five years, have been perpetrated by politicians and their supporters.
The statement added that: “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.”
Muhammed S. Bah, President of GPU, in an interview with the media, urged politicians to lead the charge in promoting press freedom and protecting journalists from harm.
“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,” Mr Bah emphasized.
The GPU has equally called on journalists to respect and uphold their code of conduct and remain professional.