Gambia has emerged from a dictatorship that exiled over 200 journalists within a span of 22 years, according to the Gambia Press Union.
Information and Communication minister Demba Jawo has assured that the Adama Barrow administration has no intention to persecute journalists for their work.
Jawo said the plans by the Government to reform bad media laws in the country have not changed despite a ruling by Supreme Court on Wednesday declaring sedition, as it applies to the presidency, and false publication and broadcasting as constitutional.
The court however declared sedition as it applied to Government, criminal defamation and false news on the internet as unconstitutional.
“The position of the Government as far as media laws reforms is concern has not changed… We will reform the laws…,” Jawo told Kerr Fatou on Friday at his office along MDI road.
“I wish to emphasize that the Government is working on reforming all the media laws… We have already set up a committee and they are about to send us their recommendation as to which laws will be repealed or amended to bring it in line with best practices.”
“I can assure the journalists that we will never have the cause to use such laws against journalists… Obviously Gambian journalists have not cause for concern,” Jawo added.
Meanwhile, following the Supreme Court ruling which was greeted with a half smile by Gambian journalists, the
Committee to Protect Journalists said it welcomes the decision but is dismayed that segments of the country’s criminal code on sedition and false news were upheld.
“This decision is one step forward, two steps backwards for Gambia, and sends a message that journalists are still not free to work without the threat of criminal prosecution,” said CPJ Africa program coordinator Angela Quintal from New York.
“We urge the government of President Adama Barrow, who pledged to champion media freedom, to uphold his word by urgently enacting legislative reform.”
The Supreme Court’s decision contradicts a February 2018 ruling by the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that directed Gambia to immediately repeal laws on libel, sedition, and false news.