A two day workshop on civil /security service relations which brings the security men and media practitioners together in order to build a smooth relationship was organized by the Media Agenda and sponsored by the US Embassy in partnership with the UK embassy in Banjul.The workshop took place at Baobab resort hotel May 14 2008.
In his welcome speech, the director of Media Agenda Madi .M.K. Ceesay said, this is not a training workshop but one that brings together civil society and the uniform men and women together. He went on to say the aim of the workshop is to create a relationship between the journalists and our service men that will enhance a very good working relationship, we have seen in the past when this two groups sometimes find it difficult to simply relate to one and another in a friendly atmosphere and he believes that it is due to misunderstanding, Ceesay said, with such opportunities. , such misunderstandings can be a thing of the past.
He said it is also clear that the security will not and cannot compromise state security. Whiles the journalists is all out to inform by publishing things that are happening or about to happen , the security will always hold on to some information that they felt its not fit for publications. This is where we clash.
He further said that Media Agenda will always endeavor to create avenues that will enhance reporting in the context of human rights.
Ambassador Barry L. Wells of the USA to the Gambia said he was delighted to be associated to the sponsoring of a workshop on civil / military relationship. Wells urge the media to work hand in hand with the security men and women. Also security personnel must not see each other as enemies. He said for them they will continue to sponsor such activities. He calls on the media to research their stories well and to be factual in news presentations.
Other speakers included the Permanent Secretary Department of state for Information, Communication and Information Technology. Abdoukirim Sonko. He told the participants that the workshop will create a greater understanding between the media and the security personel. Sonko also said the military must not see the media as anti development, but rather partners in development. He went on to thank Media Agenda for spear-heading this noble course – training of people is the main foundation, he asked to put what is learnt to best practice.
He said in many part of the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, relationship of the military and the media has not been very cordial, tensions and fractions seem to be the humor of the day which normally is the manner and the type of information they provide for people.
The president of the Gambia Press Union Ndey Tapha Sosseh said the military and civil Society relations are a concern over the years. The Gambia Press Union has continually sought to improve on the relations and ease tensions between the media and security personel.
The GPU president thanks the organizers and urges the participants to participate actively during the deliberation over the next two days, to critically analyze the situation between civil society and military.
Mr. Swaebou Conateh, of the Gambia News and Report Magazine a resource person presented a paper on how one becomes a good police or crime reporter.
Other speakers include Captain Sanneh PRO of the Gambia Army Forces who also express similar sentiments Mrs. Halimatou Jallow of Immigration Department.
Participants were drawn from the National Army, Immigrations, Fire and Ambulances Services, National Intelligence Agency, The police, and the media.