The Gambia adopts Access to Information Law

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Access to Information Bill adopted

On 1st July 2021, Gambia’s National Assembly adopted the Access to Information (ATI) Bill, which is currently waiting for the President’s assent. The ATI Bill in the Gambia was a result of close collaboration between civil society – organised through the CSO Coalition on ATI – and government departments.

The passing of the RTI Bill was welcomed by local and international civil society, such as the Gambia Press Union (GPU), Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA). The Gambia is the last country in anglophone West Africa to have adopted an access to information law, with Ghana the latest country in 2019.

Physical assault on journalists

On 2nd June 2021, the photographer of President Adama Barrow, Modou E. Njie, physically assaulted journalist Buba Gagibo for the online platform Kerr Fatou while he was covering the President’s registration for a voter’s card for the upcoming presidential elections on 4th December 2021. The journalist was first accused of having obstructed the view of the photographer, who wanted to take pictures of President Barrow, then knocked to the ground and hit several times before police officers and other journalists. A formal complaint was filed.

In another incident on 19th April 2021, escorting prison guards attacked the court reporter for Foroyaa newspaper, Yankuba Jallow, while he was covering the trial of former intelligence agents. After Jallow took pictures of the accused while leaving the courtroom, a prison guard demanded that the journalist hand over his phone so that he could delete the pictures. Prison guards tried to force the phone out of the journalist’s hands after the latter refused to hand it over. The incident was condemned by the Gambia Press Union (GPU) and the Young Journalists Association of the Gambia (YJAG).