Jammeh, accomplices to be prosecuted for crimes on freedom of speech, media

Feb 25, 2022, 11:10 AM | Article By: Ali Jaw

Yet again, the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission has filed suggestions in its report that the exiled former Gambian leader, Yahya A.J.J Jammeh and his accomplices such as the ‘junglers’ be prosecuted for tampering with and barring citizens from exercising their rights to expression and speech and for crimes committed against media practitioners such as murder, tortures and enforced disappearances.

In the report, the TRRC states: "Former President, Yahya A.J.J Jammeh, should be investigated and prosecuted for the murder of Deyda Hydara, the disappearance of Chief Ebrima Manneh, the arson attacks on Radio 1 FM and The Independent newspaper and torture of all journalists and other persons mentioned in relation to the Freedom Online Newspaper issue."

"An investigation be carried out for the purpose of prosecuting the junglers who participated in the murder of Deyda Hydara, arson attack on Radio 1 FM, attacks on The Independent newspaper and torture of the journalists and other persons mentioned in relation to the Freedom Online Newspaper issue bearing in mind any recommendations for Amnesty that may be made in relation thereto."

Also the Commission has thought it wise for "a study be carried out on the Criminal Code and the Criminal Offenses Bill 2020 and the Criminal Procedure Bill 2019 with a view to removing/repealing or amending any provisions contained in it that are repressive or unduly restrictive or inimical to freedom of expression and of the press in a democratic society."

"There should be a review of domestic laws relating to the media and carry out a comprehensive review of the regime with a view to bringing the Gambia’s laws regulating the media in line with international standards and international best practice. Such a review shall include the National Media and Communication Act 2002, The Newspaper Registration and Broadcasting Act, and the Information and Communication Act 2009."

The government should, the report states, with immediate effect, repeal all repressive legislations, including legislation which do not comply with international and regional human rights law, particularly the Information and Communication (Amendment) Act 2013 and Criminal Code (Amendment) Act 2013; being criminal libel and defamation and the Newspaper Act.

The Commission has also urged the government to take all necessary steps to ensure that all journalists are able to freely exercise their right to freedom of expression without fear of arrest, detention, intimidation, or harassment and ensure media and freedom of expression provisions contained within the Constitution comply with international standards, as outlined under article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Government has also been urged to provide comprehensive training and reform of the security sector to understand journalism and the importance of freedom of expression in a democratic government, issue a standing invitation to all UN special procedures including the Special Rapporteur, on freedom of opinion and expression and to finalise a comprehensive reform agenda for laws restricting media freedom and freedom of expression, in line with the recommendations of the National Media Law Committee, transparently and with the full and effective participation of civil society, and submit this to the National Assembly without delay the draft Media law that provides for an independent regulation.

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