Nov 27, 2008, 4:55 AM
It is said that a tie was registered in Parliament when MPs voted on the Newspaper Act Amendment Bill. That is what the Clerk and the Speaker decreed. We are told that the counting, Hon Hamat Bah claimed that it was flawed, and eyewitnesses say the votes against the amendment were 22 and those in favour of the hike of the bond had only 15 votes.
What needs to be analysed is the so-called tie, as we are told the score was 15 to 15, as the Speaker acknowledged it.
This has never happened since the advent of this new Parliament in 1997.
The MPs must be commended for responsibly playing their role in the name of the people they represent.
It is true that the majority of them belong to the ruling party, but if the government is about to make a mistake in its appreciation of a given situation, it is their duty as true representatives of the people to blow the whistle. And that is what they did with their counterparts in the opposition.
The other bill that was passed last night seeks to amend the Criminal Code providing for the criminalisation of speech. It does away with the options of fine and emphasises custodial sentences of three months to three years for libel, sedition, false information and the very vague derogatory language etc, etc. The above amendment is now extended to the ordinary citizen and more so politicians.
With this amendment, journalists and politicians are going to be targeted even for their opinions, as per the articulation of the said amendment.
We now want to inform the MPs that we have been studying the bills with our lawyer Hawa Sisay-Sabally and have verified that they have some serious flaws that must be challenged and we have decided to do just that.
At a meeting held a few days ago before the passing of the bills, we had decided that we would again have to exercise our rights to seek redress, as these bills constitute an infringement of our professional pursuits. And we must challenge them in court as soon as the President assents to them.
Once again, we thank the MPs and call on Amadou Janneh to draw the consequences of such a development not only as a trained journalist but also as a man of conscience who has put his reputation at stake for the past few months.
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