By Omar Bah
On Tuesday,2nd December 2019, Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou is expected to lay before the National Assembly a bill to amend the current Criminal Code.
According to a draft bill made available to this paper, the government is proposing to criminalise ‘insulting’ the president, ministers and National Assembly Members and others as well as their parents.
“Any person who insults, or does any 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 dalasis or a term of imprisonment of not less than one year or to both the fine and imprisonment,” it stated.
According to the bill, “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 less than one month and not more than six months or to both the fine and imprisonment.”
Madi Jobarteh, the country representative of Westminster Foundation said the laws are “not the kind of provision one would have in a democracy”.
“Therefore, what is in the Criminal Code must be of utmost interest to citizens. States especially authoritarian leaders and governments have always used criminal laws to criminalise lots of actions just to ensure that they deny or limit or stop citizens from actively taking part in national affairs or holding public servants and public institutions accountable or combating corruption or ensuring transparency and efficient delivery of public services,” Jobarteh said.