Over a dozen of Gambian journalists on Tuesday, March 28, began a three-day intensive training on elections coverage and security in electoral process ahead of the upcoming Parliamentary elections.

The Gambia heads to the polls for Parliamentary elections on April 6th, four months after the presidential elections which ended the brutal 22 years of long time ruler Yahya Jammeh.

The training organized by ARTICLE 19 in partnership with the Gambia Press Union (GPU) under the support of the Netherlands Embassy in Dakar, and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) brings together journalists to be more equipped on safety and security in the context of elections in the Gambia.

The training which is part of a holistic protection programme for journalists and Human Rights Defenders that ARTICLE 19 engaged since 2007, will specifically enable journalists in the Gambia to be better prepared to mitigate security challenges faced in context such as elections and in the course of their investigation and to share lessons and good practices. It will also provide tips in the form of guidelines to enable media houses to be more aware of security risks that could be posed when professional rules are not adhered to.

“This workshop is also an opportunity to analyze and evaluate the political environment surrounding the action of media and journalists in prelude to parliamentary elections. The Panel will be led by leading experts who have worked on these issues” according to a joint press release issued by organizers ahead of the opening of the training.

Meanwhile, the election of President Adama Barrow on December 1st 2016 and the departure in January 2017 of the dictator Yahya Jammeh, forced to leave the country following a vain attempt to confiscate power, mark a new stage in the political life and opened the door to new perspectives for the country. This feat rang the end of 22 years of a governance that disregarded for human rights and where the rule of law were deepened a culture of lawlessness, impunity and violent repression to silence critical and dissenting voices.

“This regime built the most severe laws restricting freedom of expression( FoE), besides other different means (murder, torture, enforced disappearances, physical assaults, destruction, arbitrary closure of media outlets, violent repression of peaceful protesters ( April 2000 & April 2016) have led to the silence of influential and critical voices and the exile of senior HRDs, media professionals and many citizens. No strong media industry allowed to emerge and grow, nor organized civil society movement to challenge collectively the repression by the state. Security was not provided, leading to a high level of vulnerability and impunity” the release stated.