By Edrissa Jallow, @EdrissaJallow10
Last week, 17th January 2023 marked one year since Journalists Pa Modou Faal and Musa Ndow lost their lives. Our reporter conducted an exclusive interview with Pa Modou’s widow, Mariama Jallow Faal who told our reporter that her husband’s death has made life difficult for the family.
The two journalists, including a health worker named Kawsu Bayo, died in a fatal car crash in Jarra in the Lower River Region (LRR) while returning from official duty on Monday 17th January 2022.
“His absence created an irreplaceable void in our lives. Pa was a father who was always there for his children. Always following up on their welfare. He was my all-in-one and my biggest cheerleader,” says Mariama Jallow Faal.
She adds that “life without Pa Modou Faal [continues to be] the darkest phase of my life. Pa Modou was passionate about his work (journalism), volunteering on community and social work, and helping others”.
Late Pa Modou as he was commonly called, worked for various media outlets in The Gambia and had an infectious passion for his work which he conducted with utmost professionalism. According to GPU, Pa was an experienced journalist who served in various board positions at the Union and has also “stood for, promoted and defended press freedom and freedom of expression in The Gambia during the most difficult period in the history of journalism in the country”.
Seven Journalists Died in the Gambia in 2022
Our reporter also managed to contact the Gambia Press Union (GPU) who provided a list of journalists who lost their lives in 2022. According to the list shown below seven journalists lost their lives in the year 2022. The majority (five) of the seven are men while only two of the deceased are women.
UNESCO: Eighty-Six Journalists Were Killed Worldwide
Just last week, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) published its annual report and a press release indicating that eighty-six journalists and media workers died in 2022 compared to fifty-five killed in 2021 worldwide. The press release dated 16th January 2023 disclosed that one media practitioner dies every four days.
“Eighty-six journalists and media workers were killed around the world in 2022 – one every four days,” noted the UNESCO statement. The seven Gambian Journalists were actually not killed by government officials, however, across the rest of the world, this is not the same.
The Agency highlighted that half of the journalists killed were “off duty at the time they were targeted – while travelling, in their homes, or in parking lots and other public places where they were not on assignment”.
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay who was captured in the release said “after several years of consecutive declines, the steep rise in the number of journalists killed in 2022 is alarming”. Therefore, “authorities must step up their efforts to stop these crimes and ensure their perpetrators are punished because indifference is a major factor in this climate of violence,” says UNESCO Director-General in its statement.
A publication by Eye Radio dated 17th January 2023, disclosed that UNESCO “found that no one was brought to justice in 86 killings”.
It could be recalled that last year on 6th January 2022, UNESCO published a press release detailing that “fifty-five journalists and media workers were killed around the world” in 2021. According to UNESCO, this was “the lowest annual death toll in over a decade. However, impunity for these crimes remains widespread and journalists still face a huge number of risks”.