By Omar Bah
The Minister of Justice, Abubacarr Tambadou, has confirmed to journalists that the Police Intervention Unit Officers who were implicated in the killing of three people in Faraba Banta have now been charged with manslaughter. The three officers were initially charged with murder.
“We have reviewed the Faraba Banta Commission’s report and concluded that given the entire circumstances of the events, the charge of murder has been changed to manslaughter and the PIU officers implicated in the killings will be prosecuted on the basis of manslaughter,” Minister Tambadou told journalists at a press conference yesterday.
The attorney general also said his ministry has been working closely with the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure and Article 19 for a comprehensive review of media laws in The Gambia.
“This involved the promulgation of a Media Services Act that will consolidate and modernise a variety of currently disparate and often absolute media related laws such as the Newspaper and Broadcasting Station Act of 1944 or the Telegraphy Act of 1913. These Acts clearly have no place in our democracy,” he said.
He said the ministry has also embarked on a comprehensive amendment of the Information and Communications Act with the aim of removing all the bad media laws enacted by the previous administration and replacing them with laws that will facilitate the exercise of freedom of expression.
Minister Tambadou revealed that with support from the UNODC, UNDP and funding from the Korean International Cooperation Agency, a team of local Gambian consultants comprising Antouman Gaye, Sarah Njie and Gaye Sowe are engaged by the UN following a competitive recruitment process to conduct a holistic review of the criminal laws and procedure.
He said although the ongoing constitutional review process will likely address the fundamental aspects of elections in the country, the government has “initiated the process of electoral reform at the level of legislation with a view primarily to review and amend the Elections Act of 1996 which had its genesis from the Elections Decree of 78 of 1996 in order to reflect modern democratic practice and ensure a transparent, credible and level playing field for all actors in the political arena.”
He said a meeting of all the country’s political parties was convened at the Ministry of Justice in February as a first step of consultation. Tambadou said a comprehensive review of the Prisons Act of 1954 is already underway led by the Ministry for the Interior.
On the agriculture fertilizer case, Minister Tambadou reported: “We have conveyed our opinion to the Gambia Police Force recommending that charges be preferred against three individuals and that the police should conduct the prosecution of the case.”
Meanwhile, the Justice Minister also confirmed that President Adama Barrow has appointed him as the chairman of the steering committee on the security sector reform in The Gambia.
“As you all know, the aim of the security sector reform is to get a security service in The Gambia that reflects the current geographic, political, social and economic realities of our country and in response to its needs as a modern democratic state,” he said.