The Gambia Press Union has described the temporary closure of the Daily Observer as “regrettable” because it “impairs freedom of expression.”

The Union’s reaction to the Gambia  Revenue’s closure for accumulated tax arrears of over 17 million dalasis is published below.

The Gambia Press Union (GPU) is deeply concerned about the closure of the Daily Observer Company by the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA).

On Wednesday June 14, 2017, the GRA ordered the Daily Observer to cease operations with immediate effect.

The GPU has since engaged both the management of the Daily Observer and the senior management of GRA, including the Commissioner General, Yankuba Darboe.

The authorities at both GRA and Daily Observer have confirmed that the closure resulted from the newspaper’s failure to pay tax overtime.

However, the GPU is of the considered view that the closure of the Daily Observer is regrettable and impairs freedom of expression in The Gambia. 

While GRA might have acted within the country’s tax laws, the GPU urges the tax authorities to explore other ways of settling the matter.

Moreover, the Union believes that the impact of this measure by GRA is disproportionate as the harm that the closure causes to free expression and welfare of journalists outweigh the benefits.

The shutdown has rendered more than hundred media workers jobless and puts the company in a difficult position to respect its tax obligations.

While working to bring the two parties to dialogue and work out a realistic payment plan, the GPU is appealing to the GRA to allow the Daily Observer to resumes operations immediately.  

The Union also reminds The Gambia government of its obligations to create a favourable environment for freedom of expression, and therefore urges the government to as a matter of urgency move to review the tax regime imposed on the media in the country.

Signed

Secretary General, GPU 

Ends

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