Abubacarr Tambadou said the Gambian media has no “better friends in the country than they have in this Government”
The minister of justice and the chief legal adviser of the President, Abubacarr Tambadou, has aroused controversy when he stated at a press conference couple of weeks ago that Government will not hesitate to use the law on false news against anyone found wanting.
This statement, rights activists and journalists said, was reminiscent of the previous government that crossed dissent and divergent views in the country, torturing, prosecuting and exiling journalists.
However, the justice minister said on Monday at the launch of the reviews of country’s media laws report by Gambia Press Union that his statement was taken out of context.
“Notwithstanding all of these positive developments, I am also aware that the potential application of the law on publication of false news has generated some concern from some quarters. While this reaction is understandable in view of our recent historical context, I wish to reassure everyone that the constitutional right to freedom of expression and the media is not under any form of threat in the new Gambia and that the Government remains committed to the idea of a free media environment,” he said.
“We must not be judged on the basis of one single pronouncement, which in my candid opinion was taken out of context, to the exclusion of all the other significant positive developments that have been registered by the Government in the protection and promotion of fundamental rights in general and the exercise of the right to freedom of expression in particular.”
Tambadou said the Gambian media has no “better friends in the country than they have in this Government”.
Meanwhile, the media law review report highlight country’s laws that affect free speech and the effective functioning of the media.
The event was attended by civil society leaders, top journalists in the country and representatives from both the justice and communications ministry.
Gambia’s transition government is currently embarking on initiatives to reform the country’s laws though there has been concerns from the GPU about the delays in the reforms.
“The objective is to adopt a number of concrete legislative measures that would open up the democratic space and allow for the free flow of ideas among the citizenry. More specifically, these measures will include: The enactment of a Freedom of Information law, the amendment of the Information and Communications Act, the amendment of the Telegraphs Act, the repeal of the Newspaper and Broadcasting Stations Act to be replaced with a General Media Act, and the repealing of all laws that unjustifiably criminalize the exercise of free speech,” he said.
Other key speakers at the event were Sheriff Bojang Jr, president of the GPU; Sam Sarr, the editor in chief of the Foroyaa Newspaper; John Charles Njie, chairperson of the board of directors of TANGO and Fatou Njie, permanent secretary from communications ministry.