By Omar Bah
The Minister of Justice Baa Tambadou has warned that people found wanting of spreading hate speeches and false news will be prosecuted. Speaking during his monthly press briefings yesterday at the Justice Ministry, Tambadou said the recent trend of spreading hate speech and false news in the country is worrisome and must be addressed.
“While we want to encourage the 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 or smear innocent people,” he warned.
He said the tendency increasingly is that, once an allegation is made against someone, many people rush to judgement and condemn that person even if there is no evidence to support an allegation.
“We cannot accuse, try and condemn people all in one scope, it amounts to mob-justice. Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence until the law finds them otherwise. 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 on offenders,” he charged.
He continued: “I therefore encourage everyone to exercise and enjoy their rights 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 freedom to irresponsible or unacceptable limits, because when we do we hurt others and their families in the process”.
He said the law is here to protect everyone including the accuser and the accused.
“I know that when I made these comments your minds are running in a thousand miles in an hour towards the most recent event…but allow me to clarify that my comments are not intended to address any specific incidence as there has been too many such incidence in the country recently,” he stressed.
TRRC, Janneh Commission
Minister Tambadou said the TRRC has commenced the process of lining-up few witnesses who will testify before the commission after its launching next Monday, adding that the commencement of the Truth Commission will be announced very soon.
He disclosed that the UN transitional justice team has reviewed and approved a grant of $25,000 and $18,000 will be given to Victims Centre and $7,000 to Female Lawyers Association of The Gambia.
He said the commission of inquiry has started working on a draft report and it could be submitted to the president by the year’s end.
Forensic examination on the exhumed bodies
Tambadou said: “We are still awaiting confirmation of the forensic examination test of the exhumed bodies of Solo Sandeng, Njaga Jagne, Lamin Sanneh and Alagie Jaja Nyass. We expect that these results will be received soon, so that we can return the bodies to their families for decent burial”.
National Human Rights Commission
He said his office has published the nine shortlisted candidates in the Gazette for public scrutiny for 14 days and barring any objection in writing, the names will be forwarded to the National Assembly for their consideration and approval of five of the candidates before their appointment by the president.
He said the Justice Ministry had laid plans for prison, electoral and criminal justice legislative reform for 2019.
The Justice minister further revealed that there is now a draft anti-corruption commission bill that is been reviewed for submission to cabinet.
“We hope that the review process will be conducted in time to present the bill before the National Assembly enactment before the end of the year.”