Gambia’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubacarr Tambadou has said that government will not hesitate to use the draconian “ False news publication” law to charge folks, who are bent on circulating false news on the public domain. “Let me also take this opportunity to remind everyone that the publication of false news is still a criminal offence in this country, as upheld recently by the Supreme Court and we will not hesitate to apply the law. I therefore, encourage everyone to exercise and enjoy their right to freedom of expression without committing a crime because if they do, they will be held accountable. We must not push the boundaries of our new found freedoms to irresponsible or unacceptable limits, because when we do, we hurt others and their families in the process. The law is here to protect everyone including the accuser and the accused,”Tambadou told journalists in Banjul on Tuesday during a news conference.
“Now I know that when I make this comment, your minds are running at a thousand miles an hour towards the most recent events so allow me to also clarify that my comments are not intended to address any specific events as there has been too many such events in the country recently,” he added.
The Minister’s remarks followed, an allegation made against President Adama Barrow by United Democratic Party (UDP) MP Sanna Jawara, who accused President Barrow of allegedly bribing UDP MPS ahead of the party’s Congress scheduled for December. Jawara, in a Facebook posting, also alleged that Barrow is buying the support of UDP MPS with D10,000 dalasis allowances. UDP forms the majority President Barrow’s transition government.
The Barrow State House has debunked his claims in a press release issued on Monday. The State House has in turn accused Jawara of soiling the reputation of the President.
Serre-Kunda West MP Madi Ceesay, has confirmed to journalist Omar Wally in an interview of receiving D10,000 dalasis from President Barrow, through one of Barrow’s emissaries Lamin Cham. Ceesay said he never questioned the President’s motive. He also denied being corrupted by the President.
“Recently, we have noticed a worrisome trend in the country, and this must be addressed. While we want to encourage a culture of tolerance and the freedom of expression like in any democracy, this must not be equated with chaos or be used as an opportunity to tarnish the reputation of or smear innocent people,” AG Tambadou remarked.
“The tendency is that once an allegation is made against someone, many people rush to judgment and condemn them even when there is no evidence to support the allegation. We cannot accuse, try, and condemn people all in one scoop. It amounts to mob justice. Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence until they are found otherwise by law,” he concluded.