By Omar Bah
The Ministry of Justice has back tracked on a provision in the amended Criminal Offences Bill which is expected to be tabled next month.
The much criticized provision that seeks to criminalise parental insults of the president and other public officers, reads: “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.”
Media rights activists expressed concern that this provision could be problematic for journalists and activists.
Meanwhile many more people have described the latest action by the ministry as not enough.
“What Ba Tambadou leaves in that bill is worse than what he took out. Who would have broken that parental insult law? Which responsible person would go about insulting people’s parents?
“This law can be used to jail journalists or activists whose conduct is seen to have “excited disaffection against the person of the President, or the Government,” said Mustapha Darboe, a journalist and vice president of the GPU.
Sidi Sanneh, a prominent senior civil servant, commented on Facebook that the entire bill should be scrapped because it is a bad law from head to toe.
He noted: “In the same vein and on behalf of GAMCORD and The Right2Know, I have asked the Chairman of CRC to take note of the Justice Ministry’s withdrawal of the ‘insult law’ by expunging the appropriate section of the Draft Constitution that is a replica of the section of the insult law dropped by Justice.”