Friday, April 30, 2010

UNESCO’s Quito Office launches website to celebrate World Press Freedom Day 2010

News Banjul The Gambia (MB)- For the celebration of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, the UNESCO Office in Quito has launched a new website dedicated to press freedom and the right to information in the Andean region. In addition to providing information about all activities organized by the UNESCO Quito Office, the website serves as a clearinghouse for educators and media professionals throughout the region.

Within the framework of worldwide actions to commemorate World Press Freedom Day, UNESCO’s Office in Quito is focusing its regional activities and publications on the right to access information. Right to information laws have been adopted in eleven Latin American countries, with Brazil currently in the process of passing such law. This underscores the growing recognition in the region of this important corollary to freedom of expression.

The news website provides relevant and easily accessible information on the right to information, including background references, analysis papers, international standards and national laws, as well as recommended readings and links to related sites.

Journalists will find on the website a press kit that includes readily applicable media materials such as press releases, statistical summaries and resources on the state of right to information. Teachers will be able to use an educational packet that comprises classroom exercises, activities and materials designed to raise awareness among young people about the importance of freedom of expression and press freedom. These materials are also being circulated in the region through the National Commissions, civil society networks and UNESCO Associated Schools.

Information about the series of conferences and workshops that UNESCO’s Quito Office is organizing throughout the Andean region is also available on the website. The World Press Freedom Day 2010 website will be continually updated throughout the year to serve as an ongoing, regionally-specific clearinghouse about the right to information in Latin America.

Director-General condemns murder of Honduran journalist Jorge Alberto Orellana

News Banjul The Gambia (MB)- The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today condemned the murder of Honduran TV producer and presenter Jorge Alberto Orellana. Ms Bokova also voiced alarm at the high toll paid by journalists in the country.

“I condemn the murder of Jorge Alberto Orellana,” the Director-General declared. “I am alarmed by the high toll the media of Honduras have been paying in recent weeks and trust that the authorities will spare no effort in investigating each and every one of these cases. This is essential to enable the media to play their role, which is indispensible for democracy and rule of law.”

Jorge Alberto Orellana of commercial local TV channel Televisi├▓n de Honduras was shot dead on 20 April in the northern city of San Pedro Sula. Press freedom organizations report that he is the seventh Honduran journalist to be killed over just six weeks.



UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tortured Journalist to appear at ECOWAS Court

Press Release: Tortured Journalist to appear at ECOWAS Court

April 26, 2010

Musa Saidykhan, former editor-in-chief of banned Banjul-based ‘The Independent’ Newspaper, allegedly tortured by Gambian state agents in 2006, will on April 27th 2010, appear before the ECOWAS Court of Justice , Abuja , Nigeria .

Musa Saidykhan was on March 28, 2006, arrested and detained by the Gambia Police Intervention Unit and the Criminal Investigations Department of the Gambia Police Force, for publishing the names of alleged coup plotters thereby allegedly implicating the former Gambian Interior Minister - Samba Bah. During his detention, he was repeatedly tortured until he became unconscious. The continuous torture left scars on his back, legs, arms, and right hand, which was broken in three places. He fled the country to neighbouring Senegal , where he received treatment.



Saidykhan was among several victims who were illegally detained and suffered all manner of cruelty at the hands of the Gambian security agents in the aftermath of an alleged coup attempt in March 2006.



In order to seek justice for him and relief for many other Gambian journalists who had suffered a similar fate and have escaped into exile for fear of repression, the Media Foundation for West Africa in 2007, lodged a complaint against the government of Gambia on behalf of Musa Saidykhan before the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, seeking a declaration that his arrest, detention and torture by the Gambian security officials was illegal, unconstitutional and contravenes the provisions of the African charter on Human and peoples’ Rights; and in addition the sum of US$2,000,000.00 (Two Million United States Dollars) being compensation for the violation of the Applicant’s right to dignity, personal liberty and fair hearing.

This is the second time that the Media Foundation has lodged a complaint against The Government of Gambia. In the case of Chief Ebrima Manneh and The Government of Gambia, Suit no. ECW/CCJ/APP/04/07, The Gambian government refused to carry out the Community Court ’s order to release Chief Ebrima Manneh, another Gambian journalist who was detained by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in 2006. The Court repeatedly served the government with writs in that case but it gleefully refused to make an appearance, which compelled the Court to give judgment in default. Till date, Chief Manneh’s whereabouts still remain unknown.

For the past three years, MFWA has been at the forefront advocating Manneh’s release; giving it global awareness through consistent dissemination of alerts and press statements; holding public fora and networking with other civil society organizations to pressurize the Gambian government to respect the Community Court ruling.

Issued by the MFWA, Abuja , Nigeria , April 26th, 2010.



For further information, please contact:

Ugonna Ikechukwu Duru

Programme Officer: Media Law Reform & Legal Defence

Media Foundation For West Africa (MFWA)

30 Duade Street, Kokomlemle
Accra , Ghana

Tel : 233-21-242470
Fax : 233-21-221084
Email : ugonnaduru@mediafound.org or emerem_j@yahoo.com or mfwa@africaonline.com.gh

Friday, April 23, 2010

Read Protocols, Treaties, and Resolutions like Holy Books

ECOMOG Co-Founder Advised Journalist

News Banjul The Gambia “As journalists you need to be reading and making research and be well up date with ECOWAS protocols, treaties and resolutions” these were the words of the Co-Founder of ECOWAS Cease Fire and Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) retired Brigadier General Francis Agyemfra while presenting a paper at the ongoing two weeks training for fourteen West African journalists at the Ghana International Press Centre in Accra on the 22 April, 2010.

Retired Brigadier General Agyemfa was presenting a paper on “the role of ECOMOG in West African security strategies: How can public option and the media contribute to peace in the region”.

According to him, journalist needs to read lot of protocols, treaties, and resolutions to keep them in their memories, so as to be well familiar with issues surrounding them. He added that all the agreements that are signed, by our leaders, journalists should keep to toes by domesticating and implementing it into our local laws.

“Your role is very crusade in promoting peace in any country but in the other way around you can also escalate conflict by not reporting the truth and supporting the other side”. He went on in any conflict position in the region, “please use the pages of your paper to be neutral”, adding that neutrality accounts a lot as a journalist in the maintenance of peace and to resort democracy.

He caution West African journalist to be the watch dog of the society and keep government officials at their toes. Government officials need to be accountable to their citizens, in doing so, you need to report on issues that are in the intrest of the public.

He continued, “you also need to know laws that govern your work, be well that you operates, Always be reading your constitution, let all these be your holly book”.

He put to journalist to be covering variety of events and to be going around searching for news but not to be sitting in air condition offices waiting for “ready made” news to be on their desk.

Retired Brigadier General giving an example said that he is always impressed with the Cable News Network (CNN), journalists revealing that CNN journalists are everywhere looking for news and tasked West African journalists to emulate”.

He also expressed disappointment that some journalists are turning to be “brown envelope” journalists while not focusing on their primary roles .i.e educate, inform and entertain the masses.

He advised journalists to be independent not to be supporting ruling government noting that journalists need to speaks for the voiceless at all times. He stressed that journalists need to keep citizens up date with first hand information stating that it is the responsibility of journalists to spread message but should be accurate, balance and fair.

Giving an account of ECOMOG, he said that ECOMOG has done a lot of work for the sub-region in restoring peace and democracy in West Africa. He mentioned that it was the ECOMOG contingent that rescued the people of Liberia during the civil war.

According to him, at the time of their first operations in Liberia, ECOMOG did not receive any financial assistance from any government nor donor agency.

He revealed that ECOMOG only received support when the international community realized that embassies, United Nations properties were burnt into ashes by rebel groups, he said it was then that they received support from international donors.

In a related development, journalist s also had has the opportunity to visit the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), and were received by Colonel Dieter Schneider, Head of Training Development , in which he used the meeting to expressed his profound gratitude and happiness to the journalists for their visit to the centre as part of the course.

He said that KAIPTC is a centre which is Ghanian led but has a sub-regional (ECOWAS) focus adding that the centre is supported by international donors and stakeholders, has a high caliber staff with regional and international representation.

On vision of the centre, he said is to develop a regional (ECOWAS) centre of excellence with high standard while developing it into a world class education, training, and research facility for Africa, embracing all aspects of peace operations.

Still on visions, he stated to examine specific peace operations issues at the operational level and to enhance in “best practices” noting that also to train and to study an increasingly wide range of subjects involving participants from the full spectrum of military, security sector, diplomatic, and non- governmental agencies likely to be involved in peace support operations.

According to Colonel Schneider their objectives is to deliver internationally accredited and certified training for regional military, police and civilian personnel and to promote capacity building to consistently improve the organizational and institutional capacity in the region for dealing with peace.

He spoke at length on the objectives about the centre saying that the centre also collaborate with ECOWAS , African Union (AU), United Nations(UN), and other international organizations, stakeholders, and governments to enhance capacity of pursuance of conflict transformation.

He spelled out that the centre is tasked to improve awareness and understanding of peace operations issues, to prepare units for successful deployment on peace operations, to improve multinational interoperability, to conduct research and to maintain liaison with the National Defence College of Abuja, Nigeria and Bamako, Mali.

The centre addresses a broad spectrum of peace related issues across the security sector citing conflict prevention, crises management, conflict management, conflict resolution, opst conflict reconstruction and focuses activities at the operational level of peace support operations ion in a multi-faceted environment all as part of the nature of the centre, he explained.

Outlining the challenges, he told journalists that , their principal challenges facing the centre is to secure long term donor support and commitment, conducting training at operational level for ECOWAS Standby Force(ESF) and enhance regional (ECOWAS) direction and focus amongst others.

He also shared experiences with journalists during his mission in Kosovo war, and caution journalists to always portray positive reporting. He said that journalists should be responsible and independent.
West African Journalists Takes Stroll at Graphic Company
News Banjul The Gambia(IMB)- It was a day that many West African journalists will not forget in their life time, was the day they set their eyes and step in the entrance of Graphic Communication Group Limited (GCGL) and to have first hand information about the company in Accra, Ghana dated 20th April 2010.

The group was lead to Graphic Company, by Mr. Bright Kwame Blewe Secretary General Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) and Mr. Walter Kudzodzi of International Institute of Journalism (IIJ). The following countries are present namely; Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Togo, Ghana and The Gambia, Guinea Conakry was absent at the time of writing the piece. The two weeks training that gets started on the 19 April will winds up 30 April 2010, with certificates of attendance to be presented all participants.

The subjected on the two weeks training “The Media’s Role in Conflict Transformation and Peace Building West Africa and is currently taking place at the Ghana International Press Centre. The training itself was organized by The International Institute for Journalism (IIJ) of InWent Capacity Building International

After a warmly welcomed, shaking hands, West African journalists were shown a short documentary about the company.

Addressing journalists, Mr. Albert Sam, Public Affairs Manager Graphic GCGL said “dealing with objectively and professionally with conflicts is all about language” while putting to journalists to use simple language to communicate easily with the audience.”

According to Sam, media practitioners need to demonstrate some caution in the use of language when reporting on conflict situations.

Recounting his experiences, Sam the Public Affairs Manager said “ as a journalists myself , I have rich experiences from reporting on peacekeeping operations: United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFLI), The United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) in the Middle East, and the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in Liberia.”

In all these, he continued “what I learnt and experienced, which imprinted on my mind, is indeed to indeed exercise caution and desist from inflaming passion”.

He stated that the company mission “is to empower their readers and consumers with reliable and credible information, communication and entertainment that create the best possible customer experience.”

He went on such a good reputation is not by a lucky accident for the company but it is the result of the deliberate steps by the company to achieve leadership in disseminating high quality information and knowledge that improves people’s lives.

Sam mentioned that the company operates with high calibers of journalists that are well trained to catch up with the job and a lot of incentives have been given to staff.

“We encourage our journalists to do courses at different institutions both in Ghana and abroad “

During the question and answer session, a participant from Sierra Leone Ms. Femi Coker, Senior Reporter with the Examiner Newspaper, asked what can be some of the qualifications that can give one the opportunity to be reporting with the Graphic, in respond Sam stated that “anyone with diploma from any recognized institute but specified Ghana Institute of Journalism can be qualify to be A reporter for the Graphic.

While questions were pouring like a heavy rain, The Gambia News and Reporter Magazine, Mamadou Edrisa Njie, Senior Staff Writer asked in any success there must be challenges, so what are some of your challenges, in reply, Sam said that in any media house in the world the main constraints is finance adding that the global recessions has also affected many media houses in his country. Raising funds, technology changing times, training and the newspaper review done by the radio stations in the country. “The newspaper review every morning makes many people not to but newspapers because the already know what is content in the papers.” He further disclosed that Graphic as at now is suffering from advertisement but was quick to relate it globally.

Gambian Journalist, Mr. Modou S. Joof News Editor and Head of Sports Desk of the Voice Newspaper, posed question asking , what are the media regulations or do you have any media regulations, in his positive respond, Sam stated that during the military period there was newspaper liencesing regulations but now we don’t have it. The only thing to do now is to do formality with

Mrs. Amie Sanneh also Gambian participant from the Foroyaa Newspaper asked, do you have harsh media laws in your constitution?, In positive respond answer, Sam told ECOWAS journalists that there is no harsh laws that govern media operations in the country noting that “ their newspapers laws has been repealed since after the military rule, we are different from you (The Gambia), where the media is struggling daily for the repeal of some of the draconian laws in The Gambian how Sir are the staff of your company well paid and motivated? Question posed by Ms. Celine Oyewole correspondent with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), responding to the question, Public Affairs Manager Sam noted that their staff are well paid and motivated by the group citing the Graphic Needy Trust Fund stating that the fund helps genuinely needy Ghanians who require medical treatment whose cost is beyond their reach adding that this fund has been alive since 1989 and the company and its collaborators have assisted more that hundred (100) partients with various ailments to receive medical care.

On Free Medical Care, he explained that every year, the company organiseds free health care for the Adabraka community, where the company is located. This programme, he buttressed was introduced in 2005 and is meant for the people of Adabrka in which the programme gives residents to have consultation and drugs come free to partients. The company has extended the free medical exercise to Asafo, a suburd of Kumasi the company’s largest centre of operations outside the head office.

Scholarship Scheme, this he pointed out, the company runs a schpolarship scheme for the children of employeres who are in second cycle institutions. Still answering a question posed by Nigerian Reporter, cited Daily Graphic Governance Dialogue and the Ephraim Amu Award of Excellence for Arts and Culture all gears towards the development of the company.

Mr. Silas Gbandi Deputy Director Sirrea Leone News Company incorporating , The Punch Newspaper and Citizen Radio asked Mr. Sam how independent is the editorial of the Graphic?, in reply Sam said that their editorial is independent despite the government of Ghana acquire the company by an act of parliament.

Mr. Nruddenn M. Abdallah Head, Cover and Investigation Sunday Trust Nigeria, asked Mr. Sam how many copies and the number of pages, in reply, Sam revealed that the company published about two hundred to two hundred and fifty copies daily with thirty two pages adding that the Daily Graphic is the biggest and the leading newspaper in Ghana with about one hundred and ten journalists.

All the ECOWAS journalists were present and asked different questions, after the team was taken on a conducted tour.

Volcanic Ash "Misbehaved" Strands INWENT Lecturer and Counsultant

- But Training In Progress with Help of Others

News Banjul The Gambia(MB)- Fourteen West African journalists that are currently undergiong for two weeks intensive training at the Ghana International Press Centre from the 19th -30 April 2010, could not get proper due to the misbehaved volcanic ash that strands the course trainer and counsultant in German.
The International Institute for JournaLISM (IIJ) of InWent Capacity Building International, Germany organised the training for fourteen journalists drawn from Ghana, Nigeria,Togo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia.
The theme for the two weeks training " The Media's Role in Conflict Transformation and Peace Building West Africa" with the objectives to seeks to strengthen accurate and responsible journalism and to increase the awareness for the media's contribution to the escalation of violence as much as to rewconciliation and under standing among journalists in West Africa.
Conflict itself is natural in any society. Disagreement and resolution is the essence of constructive change. However, a dash of intrest, values, actions or directions often sparks a conflict which becomes violent, at cost and losses for the society.
Wolf Zunzer, a trainer, facilator and conflict transformation specialist for a diversity of European development coopearation organisation including InWent and for respective ministeries, who is stranded in German but send presentation via email to all the participants, this was contained in the presentation on Basic Conflict Threory that conflict is a (perceived) incompatibility of intrests between two parties.
Non- Violent conflict a is "fact of life", yet can be addressed constructively or destructively and understanding differences in perceptions and differences in position/intrests// values of parties to a conflict are key influencing conflicts constructively.
Conflict transformation , he defines as actions and processes which seek to alter the various characteristics and manifestations of conflict by addressing the root causes of a particular conflict over the long term. He continued, it aims to trasnsform negative, destructive conflict into positive constructive conflict and deals with structural, behavioural and attitudinal aspects of conflict.
As the lecturer and the course counsultant are both stranded in German, possiblitities were put in place to keep the participants busy, in making them busy Mr. Kent Mensah the participants lectures on Monday 19th April at the said centre focusing his presentation on "blogging and mobile communication", Web Editor of Africa News.
Accoording to Mr. Mensah, blogs are use to expresse views been it individual, networks or groups sharing information adding that as journalists " we need to have our own blogs to express our veiws, comments, ideas etc by blogging".
He said that one can aosl be blogging, if one is maginalised in the society, " you can use your blog to critised what is wrong and adovacate for the good", use it as a platform.
To him, blogs for the past years three to four years blogs are not famous but today , he diosclosed that many people are blogging today and making a lot of money and securing jobs through their blogs advertisments.
He told West African journalist to be blogging as their are lots of opportinities but puts to them to stick to the ethics of the noble profession when blogging.
" As journalists today we need to have our individual blogs, community, office, and even departments blogs to expresse views."
He also puts to journalists to make best use of twitter and facebook for giving ionformation to each but not only lodging on for charts. According to him with twitter one can many messages with 140 chracters to many people like breaking news.
Mr. Mensah stated that it is high time that journalists to use moiblie phone that are connected to the internet with many features like camera, video, recording ect for using it to send stories.
"But using mobile phones does not means you but expensive mobiles but simple nokia with N70, N73, N93 marks".
He further advised journalists to be internet wizard saying that there a lots of information avaiable in the internet. He also encourage journalist to venture in online journalism adding that sooner or later all those who are not practising online journalism will be found wantind.
On 20th April, second day, participants have the opportunity to visit Graphic Communication Group Limited headquarters in Accra.
At the Graphic, participants were welcome by Public Affairs Manager Albert Sam, who told journalists that their vision is to be the biggest, most infuential and reliable multi-media organisation in West African sub region, which generated general laughter.
Going into history, Sam stated that Graphic Comminication Groups Limited(GCGL) was formed in 2nd October 1950 as the West African Graphic Comppany limited by the Daily Mirror Group of newspapers in the United Kingdom, headed by Ceci; King Jr.
Accordin g to him it was in 1962, the government of Ghana acquired the company by an act of parliament and turned it into a statutory corporation in 1971 by the Graphic Corporation Instrument, 1971, LI 709, in accordance with the Staturoty Corporations Act, 1964 (Act 232).
Sam explained that since its inception, built and maintained a reputation for credible in quality news presentation to the extend that in Ghana, newspaper is simply refered to as the "Graphic", the name he went on readers affectionately call Daily Graphic, the company's flagship newspaper.
He disclosed the Daily Graphic published two hundred thousand to two hundred fifty thousan daily copies (200,000-250,000) saying that it is the largest newspaper in Ghana.
Public Affairs Manager pointed out that the company currently publishes seven newspapers and an advertising newspaper, which are all market leaders in the industry adding that it has the largest circulation and readership.
On the subject of conflict tansformation and peace building, Sam advised media practitioners need to demonstrate some caution in the use of language when reprting on conflict situation.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Money Laundering in The Gambia Difficult to Determine

According to the Inter-Governmental Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA)in its annual Report 2008.The laundering of illicit money is increasingly a major problem in The Gambia, but its magnitude or severity remains relatively difficult to determine,
The Report cited many cases such as porous borders, weak controls, prevailing poverty, dominance of cash transactions, poor know your customer (KYC) compliance culture, massive inflows of tourists and anecdotal evidence of increasing drug-related and other criminal activities are all factors contributing to an increase in the money laundering risk in The Gambia.
Within its limited resources and capacity, the Report said The Gambia has passed various laws and regulations that are directly or indirectly relevant to anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing (AML/CFT) in the country. “These include the Money Laundering Act 2003; the Anti-Terrorism Act 2002; Economic Crimes (Specified Offences) Decree 1994; the Drug Control Act 2003; and the Revised Regulations for the Operation of Foreign Exchange Bureaux 2005.”
However the 2008 Report argued that all these laws need to be updated and mordanised. Efforts to amend these laws have unfortunately not been successful until now, despite ongoing official collaboration with the West African inter-governmental group against money laundering (GIABA) to this end.
“Although an inter-agency committee has been set up and may have played an important role in the drafting of the 2003 Money Laundering Act and related legislations, it has remained an ad hoc, tentative body,” the West African group said.
In terms of implementing the provisions of the law, the committee has not truly played an effective coordinating and enforcement role, given the reported frequent movement of staff, lack off commitment by some members and the low priority accorded to money laundering control measures in an environment of severe constraints on capacity and resources.
However, it is pertinent to note the relevant agencies and their respective roles in the AML/CFT implementation in The Gambia. These include the Department of for Finance and Economic Affairs, the Central Bank, the Department of State for Interior and Justice and the National Drug Enforcement Agency.
According to the Report, the Department of State for the Interior has statutory coordinating and oversight responsibilities in the implementation of the AML/CFT laws, as the supervisory ministry for the police, immigration service and the national drug enforcement agency.
In April 2008, the Report said GIABA undertook a short assessment mission to Banjul in order to evaluate The Gambia’s readiness to establish its financial intelligence unit (FIU) and anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing (AML/CFT) Committee.
“It was found that much of the work had been accomplished and that several concerns were several concerned authorities were ready to push forward with the task,” it stated.
As a result of this mission, written guidelines for the establishments of FIU’s and of AML/CFT Committees were formulated and published by the West African body (GIABA), and were distributed to all countries in the region, for their information.
Notwithstanding, the report indicated that despite some progress with the designation of promises and appointment of members, the FIU and AML/CFT Committee are yet to be fully operational. “There has been little progress, despite official assurances that things would moving along. This is hard to comprehend and seems to be linked to a question of fundamental will,” the GIABA mission to The Gambia reports.
Perhaps the results of the Mutual Evaluation, in addition to some pressure being exerted by GIABA and by sister countries which are establishing their FIUs, will compel the country to finally comply with international standards and move forward in they called a critical area.
It stressed that, laws need to be revised, the FIU needs to become operational and the National Strategy needs to be formulated. “This remains a challenge for the coming year,” the Report concluded.

Assembly winds-up first meeting in 2010

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA(MB)- Deputies at the National Assembly Wednesday wrapped-up their first sitting in the 2010 Legislative Year with debates on various issues, ranging from development to other cross-cutting issues affecting the people in their constituencies.

The adjournment debate, which is a tradition at the National Assembly, came after a marathon sitting of the lawmakers in their first meeting of the 2010 Legislative Year. The forum provided the parliamentarians the platform to bring to the notice of the authorities various issues affecting them and their people such as the need for ministers to attend the adjournment debate where a wide range of issues of national interest were discussed. They also raised the issue of feeder roads construction and building of major health centres in certain areas of the country. The lawmakers also urged the Interior Ministry to work harder in ensuring that there is constant security everywhere in the country.

Hon. Netty Baldeh, the National Assembly member for Tumana expressed concern over the condition of the Fatoto-Basse Road. ?I have always been among those people who have defended that project here, but it is taking time now and I urge the contractor to measure up to standard to ensure quick dispensation of the project," he stated.

He then suggested that the road be re-graveled to improve it for users. Hon. Sellu Bah, the National Assembly member for Basse, like the previous speakers, commended the Gambian leader for his goodwill message during the recent State Opening of the National Assembly. He described the message as clear, simple and straight forward. He also re-echoed the president's call for attitudinal change. "We must be seen loving and working for our nation, see it advancing. We should not expect any other nation to come and develop ours" for us. We must be very patriotic to our nation and to our president as he is doing all he can to develop this country. It should therefore be the responsibility of every Gambian to contribute to national development so that The Gambia would be seen rising from where we are. Though we are rising, what we need is fast rising," Hon. Bah said.

Honorable Babanding KK Daffeh, the National Assembly member for Kiang Central expressed the need for area councils to provide public toilets, especially at the markets. He also highlighted the need to provide standard car parks in Serrekunda and its suburb of Tippa-Garrage for commuters and lorry drivers, adding that the women vendors in these areas find it very difficult to settle around the market to sell their produce. He added that the women are subjected to harassment by the municipal police who usually send them away.

Road construction
Hon. Sellu Bah, the National Assembly member for Basse also expressed concern on the condition of the Basse-Fatoto Road saying "the rainy season is fast approaching and I urge the Ministry of Works, Construction and Infrastructure and the National Road Authority to consider the condition of the Basse-Fatoto and Koina roads". These roads, according to him, would be difficult to access during the rainy season. He also expressed concern over the condition of the Laminkoto-Passimas Road, describing it as very important as it links very important destinations like Sami in the Central River Region (CRR) and villages in Wuli through Sandu in the Upper River Region (URR). He lamented that the road is in a very deplorable condition.

Hon. Sainey Mbye, the National Assembly member for Upper Saloum called on the Ministry of Works, Construction and Infrastructure to consider rehabilitating some feeder roads in his constituency.

Hon. Momdou LK Sanneh, the minority leader and member for Kiang West expressed concern over the slow pace of work on Mandina-ba-Soma Road, recalling that the ministry responsible did refute rumours that work at the said site has not been suspended. He stated that his recent visit to the site shows no signs of progress of work and urged the responsible ministry to ensure that work progresses.

Health
Hon. Sainey Mbye, NAM for Upper Saloum, urged the authorities to provide at least one major health centre in his area, saying the only hospitals they could access are Kuntaur, Bansang and Farafenni.

Hon. Foday Jallow, the National Assembly member for Niamina East, like the member for Upper Saloum, also expressed concern on what he described as lack of a major health centre in his area. He stated that the only major referral hospital close to the people of his area is Bansang, which is about 100 kilometers away, and that the road is too bad.

Security
The National Assembly members commended the Ministry of Interior for the improved security countrywide. Speaker after speaker unanimously agreed that there has been a drop in the number of robbery, stealing and other crimes in the country in recent times.

Hon. Lamin MM Bojang, the National Assembly member for Kombo East, also joined his colleagues in commending the Ministry of Interior for providing three major security checkpoints in his constituency. He described it as a move in the right direction, which was welcomed by his people.

Water and electricity
Hon. Sheriff Abba Sanyang, the National Assembly member for Foni Kansala, said the need for the provision of clean and potable drinking water for every community is paramount. He stated that there are some communities in his area who still need clean and potable drinking water. "I don't think access to water should be a problem in this country now. I called on the line ministry responsible for water to consider these affected villages in my area," the said.

Hon. Saikou Susso, the National Assembly member for Kantora also appealed for the provision of potable drinking water for his people. He cited a village that has a population of over 1000 inhabitants and yet has only one local pump that supplies water. Susso also used the platform to appeal to the Ministry of Energy to consider the major villages as regards providing electricity.

Agriculture
Hon. Susso dwelled on the importance of timely availability of fertilizer for farmers. He said: "If this is done, there will be bumper harvest." He also appealed that considerate prices should be charged for fertilizer whenever it is available so that it could be affordable for every one.

Hon. Pa Jallow, the NAM for Jarra Central appealed for a better market for women to enable them sell their produce. He further suggested that either the government revamps the Gambia Public Transport Corporation or dissolve it since taxpayers money are being used to pay the staff whilst they are not working. Other contributors during the debate include Hon. Alhagie Sillah, the National Assembly member for Banjul North; Hon. Abdoulie Saine, NAM for Banjul Central; Hon. Momodou M5 Jallow, NAM for Upper Fulladu West, Hon. Kebba Gaye, NAM for Jokadu, Hon. Seedy Njie, a nominated NAM, and Hon. Kalifa Jammeh, NAM for Bakau among others.
Source; Observer

Friday, April 16, 2010

US Government on Femi Peter's Conviction

Banjul, The Gambia (MB)-The United States Government is deeply concerned by the recent conviction and
sentencing of the opposition leader, Femi Peters of the United Democratic
Party, after being accused of holding a rally without permission and being in
possession of loudspeakers in a public place without permission. The United States respects the right of governments to approve or disapprove the public’s requests to assemble. We also believe such a process must respect
the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and should not be
used as a tool to impede lawful political opposition.

Mr. Peters’s sentence of one year in prison is extremely harsh and could be contrary to The Gambia’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.


As current chair of the African Union’s Human Rights Commission, the Government of The Gambia should act in accordance with its responsibility as a standard
bearer on matters of political freedom and civil liberties as well as its
international obligations and reconsider this unfortunate decision.

Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship Njie In Masses

Banjul, The Gambia (MB)-The Chief Executive Officer of Unique Solution Mr. Papa Yusupha Njie, has been nominated by the President of America Barrack Obama to represent The Gambia at the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship to be held in Washington DC later this Year.

In his June speech in Cairo, “A New Beginning” President Obama announced that the United States
will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship to
identify how they can deepen ties between business leaders, foundation, and
social entrepreneurs in the United
States and Muslim communities around the
world.

It is in this view that Mr. Papa Njie was nominated to represent The Gambia to join other colleagues from around the world.

Speaking at a press conference at the American Embassy along Kairaba Avenue on Friday 9th April 2010, Tashawna S. Bethea, the Political and Economic Officer of the U.S.
Embassy in Banjul,
said the summit represents an opportunity to highlight and support businesses
and social entrepreneurship in Muslim-majority countries, including their
minority populations.

“Through this Summit, the United States seeks to join existing efforts and inspire new efforts to promote entrepreneurship and innovation in Muslim countries,” she said.

She disclosed that delegates selected from around the world to represent their home countries, regions, sectors and communities at the summit includes successful
entrepreneurs, investors, academic, leaders of entrepreneurship networks,
non-profits foundations, and business.

According to the U.S. diplomat, the summit agenda has been designed to highlight and celebrate the work and talents of many great entrepreneurs from Muslim communities.

According o her, it provides a platform for foreign delegates to connect with American stakeholders and develop partnership that provides innovative solutions and
support entrepreneurial ecosystems.

For his part, Mr. Papa Yusupha Njie expresses delight for his nomination and his commitment is to promote The Gambia in the outside world during the summit. Mr. Njie vows
to do his utmost best to portray the good image of The Gambia and phase out the
what he called ‘the negative misconception of Africa and Africans among people
living in the west’, in order to attract both foreign investors and Gambians in
the Diaspora to come and invest in the country and improve its economic growth.

Mr. Njie stressed the need for industrialization, which he describes as a way of providing employment opportunities and creation of an enabling environment for
investment and development. The
involvement of the Muslim communities in the summit shows the positive side of
the Muslims and the way businesses are changing the lives of people.

Profile

Founder and CEO of UNIQUE SOLUTIONS, Papa Yusupha Njie, is a 34 year old Electronic Engineering and Management graduate of Middlesex
University, UK.
He is a trained electronic and computer engineer. He has passionately driven
the strategic agenda of Unique Solutions over the past 10 years, together with
his dedicated management, young and dynamic staff taking Unique Solutions from
humble beginnings to its current status as one of the leading ICT service and
solutions providers in the Gambia.

The highlight of CEO Njie’s achievements culminated in the launching of Unique Solutions’ groundbreaking Broadband Internet and Data services network in March 2008, using the latest Motorola Broadband Wireless Technology
providing wireless and fixed Internet and Data connections to corporates,
schools, NGOs, government institutions and homes.

The Motorola network infrastructure deployed by Unique Solutions has had its coverage expanded from the Greater Banjul area providing VPN and Internet
services to include Brusibi, Mandinary Brikama, Kabakorr and Kanilai and
the latest being Essau, Barra, Fass, Amadalaye, Kwinella, Farafenni, Kaur,
Kundang, Brikamaba and Basse making Unique Solutions the first private Internet
and VPN service provider to have the furthest rural connectivity coverage
meeting the Gambia’s universal service objectives in ensuring
people in the hinterland have access to cheap, and life changing technology in
their daily lives.

Mr. Njie serves as the 1st Vice-Chairman of the Sub-Regional ICT employers’ organization in West Africa,
championing the acquisition, facilitation and implementation of Information
Communication Technologies in developing countries especially to benefit young
people and communities at large. He was awarded the Gambia Chamber of Commerce
and Industry’s Young Entrepreneur of the year 2006 and nominated for same award
in 2008 and also nominated for the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s
Business Man of the year 2008. He was nominated for the 2009 Entrepreneur of
the Year and Unique Solutions have just been awarded the GCCI SME of the Year
2009.

Mr. Njie is happily married with a loving wife and 2 wonderful children. His hobbies include traveling, watching movies and playing football.

Unique Solutions provides services in the ff areas: Internet and VPN Services, Computer Hardware and Software Sales, Networking, Web Design and Hosting, Outsourced IT- Managed

MANUFACTURER CALLS FOR LEGAL PROTECTION OF TRADEMARK

Banjul, The Gambia(MB)- The managing director of ESCAPAG (Gambia) Ltd has called on the relevant government authorities to stamp out the illegal practice of intellectual property rights infringement in the country so as to create a decent level playing field in the country’s manufacturing industry.

While speaking to this reporter at his office in Kanifing Industrial Estate, Mr. Leo Hubert Gruber said the protection of intellectual property rights will give manufacturers, such as those in the wheelbarrow sector, more courage to be producing quality products for The Gambia and other neighboring countries.

Mr. Gruber’s called for the protection of trade mark was prompted by the fact that the company’s management have become aware that members of the public have been purchasing wheelbarrows from certain businesses without realizing that these wheelbarrows infringe ESCAPAG’s trademark colors for wheelbarrow in particular such colors and design as the yellow frame, green, yellow or red front reinforcement and the silver colored bowl, “upon which ESCAPAG (Gambia) Ltd has exclusive right under the recently gazetted Industrial Property Act Cap: 95:03”.

“The general public and retail sellers in particular are hereby being informed that sale and purchase of trademark infringing wheelbarrows violated several laws of The Gambia in particular the Industrial Property Act Cap: 95:03, the Merchandise Marks Act Cap 95:05 to name a few,” Mr. Gruber said.

He added: “In light of the severe civil and criminal penalty provisions in the above cited laws that are posed by sale and purchase of the trademarked infringing wheelbarrows in the market, the general public and in particular retail merchants are being informed not to purchase from infringers of ESCAPAG’s trademarked wheelbarrows so as to avoid being entangled in complications.”

“ESCAPAG will pursue all legal actions for the protection of its intellectual property rights in its trademarked colors for wheelbarrows”, the MD warned, calling on the general public, retail merchants and assemblers to note that “ESCAPAG (Gambia) Ltd is the only business legally authorizes to sell to the general public and retail merchants in The Gambia wheelbarrows in the above stated trademarked colors.”

The effects of infringement of intellectual property rights can lead to a critical point in terms of the survival of any company and if the fraudulent act continues it can send a business down the path of liquidation.

The protection of intellectual property rights from abuse is as important for companies today as is the protection of computer network from hackers. These infringement costs huge losses in revenue for companies who are victims.

He explained further: “The effects of the violation of the intellectual property rights can be very negative for the producer of the original product because the infringed products are normally cheaper than the original products, so customers prefer to go for the lower price. Normally infringers infringe good that have been successfully introduced in the market and dominated the market.”

He added that the violation in an economy done by infringement can also be very negative in the medium term because it creates a vacuum until customers recognize the advantage and qualities of the originals. “It will create unfair competition, which is not healthy for the economy and also not good for the growth of business in the country,” he said.

ESCAPAG MD made an earnest plea for the protection of intellectual property and offenders to cease their nefarious activities. “Laws are the best weapons to protect intellectual property rights”, he noted.

Mr. Gruber expresses optimism that sooner or later the relevant authorities “will act because infringement of registered trade mark consists of a civil and a fraudulent offence. The civil offence can be solved by the company through a court of law, but the fraudulent offence, which is criminal, is a “state offence” that can only be solved by the concerned authorities.

Despite the heavy infringement of its wheelbarrow, ESCAPAG MD assured his esteemed customers in The Gambia and other countries that ESCAPAG “will continue to satisfy them.”

“As far as ESCAPAG is concerned, the sky is the limit for the manufacturing of high quality and durable wheelbarrow in The Gambia. “Our wheelbarrows are made of steel with silver and yellow handles. Because of the raw material we are using, customers have valued our products”.

Established more than two decades ago, ESCAPAG dubbed as the leading wheelbarrow manufacturer in The Gambia, has been setting records both home and abroad because of it outstanding performance in the international market, which has been exemplified by its winning two international awards namely the Century’s International Quality of the Era in 2004 in Germany and the International Award for Excellence and Business Prestige in America in 2006. ESCAPAG has demonstrated it prowess in the business of wheelbarrow manufacturing both in region and beyond.

Swaebou Conateh's Boigraphy

Banjul, The Gambia(MB)- Alhaji Swaebou Jow Siramahang Conateh, Journalist, Broadcaster,
Writer, Poet, Publisher and Media Consultant, was born in Dippakunda
in Kombo St. Mary Division in the early 1940s in a polygamous family
setting, (KSMD).
In 1948, following initial attendance at the local
Koranic School, he started formal scholing at Ast. Therese's Primary
School in Kanifing, when that school first opened its doors. After
nine years of primary schooling, he entered St. Augustine Secondary
School in Banjul, and obtained excellent results at that year's
Secondary School Entrance Examination to be given the first Government
Scholarship in Kombo St Mary's Division.
When he completed high school in 1963, Swaebou Conateh joined
Government Services as a third grade Clerk at the Crown Law and Lands
Office and this was after he successfully passed the government
entrance examination. Three months later, after passing with Division
One in the year's WAEC Exam, Conateh resigned his position to enter
the Sixth Form at the Gambia High School as an art student. In 1964,
he passed the Scholarship exam of the African American Institute and
was awarded a scholarship under the African Scholarship Programme of
American Universities (ASPAU).
He entered the University of Kansa's
William Allen White School of Journalism and Public Information to
pause his life- long ambition of becoming the Fist Profesionally
Qualified Journalist in The gambia and of becoming Director of
Information Services.
During his student days , Conateh has worked for the student daily
parer, two American dailies, and a US based news Agency at the United
Nations(UN). Some four years after Tha Gambia became independent, and
with his ambitions fulfilled having earned the degree of Bachelor of
Science in Journalism, he returned home Banjul in January 1969. Later
that year, he joined the Civil Service , this time as the First News
Editor at the New Radio Gambia Studious in Bakau. Six months later, he
was promoted to the post of Broadcasting Officer and worked with his
staff to develop and upgrade Radio Gambia programming, extend the
broadcasting time and enter new fields of broadcasting, such as
Schools Broadcasting and Farm and Rural Broadcasting.
Conateh achived his childhood dream of becoming Director when in 1974,
he was promoted Director of Information and Broadcasting, a position
he held for 12 years. He was then seconded to the Pan African News
Agency(PANA) in Dakar, where he was initially assigned to open their
regional office in Lagos, Nigeria, and then to serve as
Editor-in-Chief of the English Desk at the Head Office. He left PANA
in June 1992, which was the year he also retired from the Civil
Service.
Mr Conateh then set out to fulfil; another life-long ambition, which
was to set up a multi-media business concerne for newspaper and book
publishing, advertising and business promotions. This business
enterprise, known as the Gambia Communcation Agency and Baroueli
Enterprises, he published books, newspapers and magazine. He created,
published , and produced various advertising and business promotion
and publicity materials such as calendars, newsletters, flyers and
posters and engaged in Media Consultancies for various clients both
local and overseas.
He has also published The Gambia Nerws and Report
Weekly Magazine the only current affairs Magazine since 1992. The
magazine is well -known for the "Man of the Year" it awards annually
and for its well-balanced and in-depth reporting.
Conateh who also holds Master's Degree in Mass Communication from
Lagos University and a post Graduate Certificate in Broadcasting
Station Management from the British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC) and
the Polytechnic of Central London, presently serves as The Gambia
Correspondent of the African Press Agency (APA) in Dakar, Senegal.
During this period of active service, Conateh has contributed greatly
to Gambia's development in various other ways, including the
editorship of Ndaanan, The Gambia Literary Magazine , membership of
the Library Board, the Public Service Commission, the National Council
for Law Reporting, the National Council for Arts and Culture and the
now defunct National Project Monitoring Committee, among others. He
served as Treasurer for The Gambia Press Union , a union which he
still remains an active member. He is a Media Consultant to UNESCO,
UNDP,WHO, PANA, APA and to many parastatal bodies. He is and active
member of the Dippakunda Mosque Committe and serves as Chairman of the
Pubilicity Committe of its annual Gamos. Conateh is married and
blessed with several children.
In recognition of his contribution to Journalism and development of
this nation, he was insignia Medal of the National Order of The
Republic of The Gambia by His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Yahya
AJJ Jammeh in 2009.

Kairaba Jawara Launched His Autobiography April 10

Banjul, The Gambia(MB)- The Former President of The Republic of The Gambia, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara has launched a book on his autobiography
entitled ‘Kairaba’ (Peace), on Saturday 10th April, 2010 at the
Kairaba Beach Hotel in Banjul.

Kairaba, the autobiography of Gambia’s former leader, published in 504 pages in 33 chapters, depicts the life and
times of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara from his early childhood, education, as
veterinary officer, Minister of Education, Prime Minister and President.

Born in a village known as Barrajally in 1924 in the Northern Central River Region, Sir Dawda in his book noted that he was educated at the Muhammedan School in Bathurst, now Banjul.
He studied veterinary in Ghana on a scholarship and Edinburgh,Scotland before
bagging his doctorate in veterinary. The book also highlighted his 40-year as
Head of the Peoples Progressive Party and his rule as Prime Minister and Head
of State of The Gambia
from 1965 to 1994.

In ‘Kairaba’, the author takes into account his tolerance, respect for democracy and the rule of law, the struggle for Independence,
the establishment of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in The
Gambia and the Senegambia Confederation. However, the highlights of the 1981
abortive coup led by Kukoi Samba Sanyang and Yahya Jammeh’s coup d’├ętat in 1994
will arguably keep devout readers in great suspense and turning the pages down
to the middle of the night.

The former, which Sir Dawda described in ‘Kairaba’ as an ‘Assault on Democracy’, almost, crippled a government with not enough security strength. However, the later in
1994 captures how he was overthrown and how he left the country in an American
Navy Ship to live in exile via Dakar, Senegal and later to the United Kingdom.
It also highlights the trials and tribulations of the former Gambian leader
during these periods, nonetheless, a book reviewer argued that 1994 coup led by
current president, Yahya Jammeh is ‘still too recent to be ready for historical
scrutiny as historians need to give time the time to become history’.

Be it as it may, taking into consideration of the significance of the event, the 1994 coup is worth being in the history books of The Gambia.

Taking into account of the most recent life of the Sir Dawda, ‘Kairaba’ gives a precise view of the events leading to his reconciliation with President Jammeh and his
subsequent home coming.

Giving a review of the book, Mr. Monie Ralph Captan, former Foreign Minister of Liberia pointed out that ‘Kairaba’ captures the beauty of African culture and tradition and the
life and times of Sir Dawda from the happiness of growing up and working in the
farm to the exposure of western education. “This process became an essential
necessity and Kairaba is a rich story of integrity, hard work, dedication and
patriotism,” the President of Liberia Chamber of Commerce said.

He noted that the opportunity for leadership came at the background of his party the ‘Peoples Protectorate Party but after due consideration he changed it to the ‘Peoples
Progressive Party. Mr. Captan, who is also the Chairman of GSM Company, Comium
in Liberia
outlined that nation building for Sir Dawda Jawara was about unifying people,
adding that his autobiography coincides with the history of The Gambia. He also
noted Sir Dawda’s contribution in building the democratic process of the
country, while citing that the clarion call does not depicts the smallness of Gambia but the
value of its democratic principles within and outside its boundaries.

“The author’s period in exile was another milestone and a challenge to protect his achievements in democracy, solidarity, peace and integrity,” Liberia’s
former Foreign Affairs Minister said.

Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara giving a word as the author of ‘Kairaba’ told the gathering that the idea of writing a book came to him at the turn of the 20th
century at the age of 75. “I thought of writing about the story of my life IN
1999, but it was only after seven years (in 2006) that I started my story by
granting an interview as a start for gathering my book, and memories begin to
flash through my mind,” Sir Dawda told a high level gathering.

He said: ‘I ventured into thorough research in order to ensure that those flashing memories are as authentic and accurate.’ “It took me 46 months to write this
autobiography but I never regretted it, there is no need to blow my own trumpet
though you need to hear from the horse’s mouth but in any case, I would want to
reflect on key moments in my life; the winning of the standard seven
photograph; the Cooper Prize and above all, the attainment of independence,”
Jawara said in his first major public statement on home soil since leaving
office in 1994.

Also speaking, the current President of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh applauds Sir Dawda’s courage to bring his political career into the public space. However, President Jammeh noted that the
depiction of Jawara’s politics of The Gambia in the book is his personal view
of the country’s politics as former Head of State. “The country is bigger than
any one person. The action (coup) was not directed to him as a person but to a
system, unfortunately he was leader of,” President Jammeh said.

The Gambian Leader, who went on a long narration of Jawara’s life at State House in Banjul when he (Jammeh) was a guard, noted that Sir Dawda was an exemplary father as Head of State, in
approval of his parental care. He said that the book is very interesting as it
has given us an insight of his life from a veterinary officer to a politician.
“It was like a stage, you played your part and we felt that it was necessary
for us to take over and continue the act,” President Jammeh said.

However, he revealed that having leave office, Sir Dawda is still on salary for a life time and enjoys all the dues accorded to him (President Jammeh) when travelling
abroad. The book is a historical testimony in assessing the current political
system of The Gambia, Jammeh concluded.

The launching of the book was done by the former President of Sierra Leone, Ahmed Tijan Kabba, who noted that he could not say much on the Autobiography since he was yet to lay
hand on the copy at the time.

Nonetheless, he recognised the relationship of the former and present Heads of State as a true reflection of the relative peace in the country, saying all that I have heard
here are praises of either President Jammeh or Sir Dawda. However, he stressed
that a lot of people only make noise and forget the younger generation and I
think their concern is the development of this country. “It is from such books
that the future generation would learn how to continue the development of the
country,” he said.

Other speakers include the Nigerian High Commissioner to The Gambia, Mrs. Esther John Audu as a representative of Olisegun Obasanjo, the President of ECOWAS James Gbeho Victor and the two sons of Sir Dawda (Ebrima and Kawsu Jawara).

The book was sold to different individuals and institutions in what was called an auction to the tune of more half a million Dalasis (D590, 000) on the spot. President
Jammeh himself bought D270, 000 worth of books.