#Editorial

Gambia and free speech!

Jul 7, 2020, 11:08 AM

Freedom of expression is an important component and one of the cornerstones of democracy as well as a means of ensuring respect for all human dignity.

 Suffice it to state that the government of The Gambia is signatory to several international treaties such as Universal Declaration on Human and Peoples’ Rights which guarantees the right to freedom of expression amongst other things.

It is noteworthy to state that The Gambia had indeed gained a bad reputation on its human rights situation under the former government of Yahya Jammeh. Jammeh’s 22 years of military turned civilian style dictatorship. Such attracted international attention for 22 years, making The Gambia hell for journalists as well as activists that promote right issues in the country.

Following the change of government in 2017, many in the country respired and hoped for a better Gambia, where people’s rights to free speech and freedom of expression would be guaranteed at all cost. Few years down the line, it appears that the country is still far away from what many hope for.

The recent case involving Madi Jobarteh, a renowned Gambian right activist is a case in point.  Madi’s case has been a talking point in many social media. As rightly stated in our Monday’s edition of Good Morning Mr. President, as a leader, you must be ready to face critics as we are in New Gambia where freedom of expression without abusive languages should be welcomed at all times.

This also reminds us about the draconian media laws put in place by the past government. To silence the press and his critics, media laws have been passed which restricts media freedom including freedom of expression. Since 2013, the Jammeh administration enacted series of repressive laws that curtail freedom of expression and the media with a new law increasing penalties for “providing false information” and the other criminalises anyone using the internet to spread “false news” about the government or civil servants.

As the country now ushered in new democracy, these harsh laws to stifle free speech and media freedom should be abolished so as to promote democracy, rule of law and good governance. We therefore, called on the government to look at these harsh laws and make a swift move by eradicating in its entirety from our law books.

Your government should also allow people to freely speak and express themselves without the fear or being arrested or questioned or whatsoever.

Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom- and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech.;

Benjamin Franklin

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