The new law, according to the attorney general and minister of justice, seeks to amend the criminal code regarding public officials who abscond while on government sanction missions.
She stated: “The bill also provides for the criminalisation of aggravated homosexual acts and pornography. The increasing number of government officials absconding while on government-sanctioned missions as well as homosexual acts committed in aggravated circumstances necessitates this bill. The amendment…provides that all state officials who have been sent on government-sanctioned missions and refused to return home after the end of their mission commit an offence and upon conviction, will be fined D500,000 in addition to five years imprisonment and where government money have been spent on them, they will also be required to refund that money.
“The other provision…provides for aggravated homosexuality. Aggravated homosexuality includes where homosexuality is performed on a person below the age of 18 or where a person commits an act of homosexuality on a person living with HIV/AIDS or a person who commits homosexuality is a parent or guardian of the victim or where a person who commits an offence of homosexuality is a person of authority over a person upon which it is committed or the victim is a person with disability or serial offender. In addition, the punishment if convicted and found guilty, will be life imprisonment.
“Third amendment is the provision of pornography which provides that it is an offence for anybody to produce, publish, procure, import, sell, export any form of pornography and that any person who participates in the production, trafficking, publication of pornography commits an offence and upon conviction will be fined not less than D20,000 or is liable to imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or both. A person who produces or participates in the production or trafficking or publication or helping in the production of pornography depicting images of children also commits an offence and is liable upon conviction to a fine of D20,000 or an imprisonment of 10 years or both.”
Seconding the motion, Bintanding Jarju, member for Foni Brefet said: “It is common knowledge that we all want to develop our country, so if you are sent for studies aboard and you abscond, it is serious because the state uses her resources on you to build your capacity to develop this country. So why should you abscond? All of us want to go to Europe because Europe is developed. Why not we also stay here and developed this country? This bill is timely and non-controversial. In fact, it should have come earlier than than this time. Any form of homosexuality and pornography is an abomination because we are Muslims and Christians. We want a decent Gambia for all, free of homosexuality”.
Foni Bintang representative, Ebrima Solo Jammeh said it is annoying for government to sponsor people and at the end of their studies, they fail to return resulting in serious waste of resources. He said the new law will serve as a deterrent to others.
Majority leader and member for Serekunda East, Fabakary Tombong Jatta said: “We cannot waste public funds. You know this is a public fund only to go and abscond. That is really immoral.”
Referring to the aggravated homosexuality bill, Mr Jatta said: “God created man and woman, so man to man is immoral and unethical. In fact, they [homosexuals] should not be part of the society, moreso [doing it] to an underage person because you are a parent or guardian and using your influence. This essence of this bill is to deter others from doing it”.
Minority Leader Samba Jallow agreed with colleagues on criminalising absconding of government officials while on missions or studies but disagreed with the life imprisonment penalty for aggravated homosexuality. “It is serious but they have not caused treason or murder,” he observed.]]>