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 FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND THE LAW ON SEDITION
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Momodou



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Posted - 06 Sep 2013 :  22:21:23  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND THE LAW ON SEDITION

Foroyaa Editorial: Published on Friday, 06 September 2013


Section 25 subsection (1) of the Constitution states that, “every person shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression which shall include freedom of the press and other media.” This accords citizens the right to express their views especially through the media. However subsection (4) of the same section allows laws to be enacted or remain in force which curtail this very right. Hence section 52 subsection (1) of the Criminal Code makes it an offence for a person to “utter seditious words”, and the penalty for this is a fine of not less than D50,000 and not more than D250,000 or imprisonment for a term of not less than one year, or to both such fine and imprisonment.

The definition of sedition includes, “to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the person of the president, or the Government of The Gambia.” This law is contrary to the spirit and letter of the Constitution which makes the people sovereign and the government the servant of the people who derive their authority from the people and are accountable to the people.

The law turns the president into a monarch who must be loved by the people. It makes the people afraid to criticize the government; to make statements like “the government is not good” or “the government is useless” or “the government has not done anything”.
It is like turning the Constitution upside down. Even the government realizes this as is evident in the key recommendations at a joint stakeholders meeting of 1 November 2012 held at Ocean Bay Hotel.
The following was a key recommendation: “Repeal the provisions of the Criminal Code that unduly restrict freedom of expression in The Gambia, in particular section 52 (seditious publication), section 178 (criminal defamation) and section 181A (dissemination of false news).”
The law on sedition runs contrary to the trend in the world today to protect free speech by ensuring that no person is jailed for expressing an opinion.

Source: Foroyaa

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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