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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Laws Should Be Questioned if Out of Place, Says ex-Judge

By Abdoulie Nget
Almame Taal Ft Madi Jobarteh

Mr Almami Fanding Taal, the chairperson of Foundation for Legal Aid, Research and Empowerment (FLARE), a Gambia-based human rights organisation has said that laws should be questioned if out of place.
A former High Court Judge whose services were recently terminated for unexplained reason/s said, laws, being human-made, should be suitable to the needs of the citizens.
Taal said, all government activities are funded by the people through the taxes they pay, thus any wrong decision made should be questioned by the people of the country.
“We need to hold government accountable, but we must take our own responsibilities to hold them accountable,” he said.
The legal consultant was speaking on Saturday at a day-long seminar organised by FLARE as part of activities marking World Press Freedom Day held at Gambia Press Union.
The event brought together journalists from both print and electronic media to discuss human rights issues.
The theme of the seminar is in conformity with the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day: 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers.
It seeks to reaffirm fundamental principles of media freedom in the digital age, the ability of citizens to voice out their opinions and access diverse, independent information some 20 years after the original declaration was made in Windhoek, Namibia.
“As media practitioners and members of the society in which you live, you are entitled to know as well as to be given your due rights,” FLARE chairman told the country’s pen pushers. 
He added: “Conflicts are inevitable when we have a community, but the laws that exist for us will serve as a solution to these conflicts.”
“Societies cannot exist without laws and then we should resolve our ideas as to what to do with these laws,” Taal added.
Taal also criticised Gambia media for what he calls failure to give details in reporting issues.
He added: “If a man is charged with stealing and found guilty, yes you send him to jail but you will in turn feed him or her with the same tax you will pay.”
Speaking earlier was a veteran Gambian journalist, Mr Alieu Sagnia, the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) country director.
Mr Sagnia said, the occasion was made possible as a result of a collaborative effort with FLARE and GPU.
He shed light on ICFJ’s new project in The Gambia, which started late last year in partnership with GPU and FLARE.
“The project is a 20 month programme,” he said, “there will be series of training workshops and seminars as part of the project, which is aims to develop media in The Gambia.”
Madi Jobarteh, Coordinator of FLARE who made a presentation on the role of the media in national development indicated that without a free media, there will be no development.
“All democratic constitutions and governments should respect, protect and fulfill the rights of the media,” Madi said.
The seminar was chaired by Njundu Drammeh, a member of FLARE and a human rights activist.

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