False News bill is unconstitutional – Yanks Darboe

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By Juldeh Njie

Yankuba Darboe, a legal practitioner who spent years in UK and recently licensed to practice in The Gambia, has said that the 2013 amended bill on false news is unconstitutional and is in violation of a fundamental human right.

“The bill does not hold the characteristics of a good law. It only protects certain class which is the government,” he said.
He made this remark during a workshop on media laws in The Gambia organised by Give1 Project, a global non-profit and development-oriented oganisation.
Darboe added that any law that makes others superior is a terrible law which cannot be accepted in any democratic country.

He added: “The bill is discriminatory and holds no value because even those who drafted it, cannot give a concrete definition of false news and any law that is not specific is not a good law.”
Mr Darboe said the law is very broad because it also includes dissatisfying people, adding that no one can determine what dissatisfies the next person.
He said a good law must be in the interest of the people, “it must not discriminate anyone, or suppress the people.”

Meanwhile, the National Assembly Member for Busumbala Constituency, Saikouba Jarju who also spoke at the forum said the media laws are too harsh as they only favour and protect one person.
He said: “We have realised that all the acts in the constitution have been Jammehnised,” he said, adding that the former president cannot be prosecuted if the constitution remains the same.

In July 2013, the Information and Communication Act introduced a bill which was passed by the National Assembly. The bill criminalized the act of spreading ‘false news’ against the government or public officials, with 15-year-jail term or a fine of D3 million or both.