By Njix Sharon
The Gambian government has intentions to put in place a new law that punishes contemptous words against the President, public officials and their parents.
The draft bill expected to be published next week is meant to ameliorate the current criminal law on sedition.
This bill will grant the court additional powers to fine or jail any person found guilty of causing hatred or rebellion against the President or government officials.
The bill is being announced a year after insurrection was declared “unconstitutional” by the Supreme Court.
The draft bill states categorically that perpetrators will be brought to justice.
“Any person who insults or does an act to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the person of the President, or the Government of The Gambia as by law established, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not less than fifty thousand Dalasi or a term of imprisonment of not less than one year or both fine and imprisonment.”
The bill explains further on the insults on parents.
“Any person who directs parental insults to the President, Vice President, Cabinet Ministers, Judicial Officers, Members of the National Assembly or any public officer holding a public office or in the exercise of his or her official functions, shall be held liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than ten thousand Dalasi and not more than fifty thousand Dalasi or a term of imprisonment of not more than six months or both fine and imprisonment.”
This bill has been termed ‘draconian’ and ‘politically motivated’ by several civil society and human rights activists in the nation. Reports say it is a way to silent the President’s critics.
Some people still hope the bill will be rejected by the National Assembly.
“This government must understand that governance through egotism and paranoia is not the way to go. The National Assembly members must reject this retrogressive act that is meant for nothing but to subvert the civil liberties of the people. When we said ‘Never Again’, we meant anything that will remotely mirror Jammeh’s ways,” Coach Pa Samba Jow, a leading civil rights activist said.