TRRC Task Gov’t to Repeal Draconian Media Laws, ensure Safety of Journalists
By Amadou Manjang
The Truth Commission report that was submitted to the government months back has recommended that the government of The Gambia to repeal all repressive media laws and ensure the safety of journalists’.
“The government should with immediate effect, repeal all repressive legislation, including legislation that does not comply with international and regional human rights law, particularly the Information and Communication (Amendment) Act 2013 and Criminal Code (Amendment) Act 2013; being criminal libel and defamation,” the report stated.
The report further stated that the government should take all necessary steps to ensure that all journalists are able to freely exercise their right to freedom of expression without fear of arrest, detention, intimidation or harassment.
“To ensure media and freedom of expression provisions contained within the Constitution comply with international standards, as outlined under article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),” the report added.
The commission wants the security personal to be train and understand the work of journalists’ and freedom of expression. The commission recommended the establishment of independent media and the repealing of some of the existing repressive media laws in the country.
The Commission’s report added that the government should “Repeal Section 173A of the Information and Communications Act 2009 (as amended 2013). Reform the Criminal Code to fully protect media freedom and freedom of expression, in particular by decriminalising sedition and defamation, ensuring that individuals’ reputational interests can only be safeguarded through civil litigation, in conformity with international human rights law.”
“Ensure media independence, including through reforms to Chapter IV of the Information and Communications Act 2009 and the repeal of the Newspaper and Broadcasting Stations Act 1994 (as amended in 2004). Review and reform legislation providing for government secrecy, such as the Official Secrets Act 1922, to bring it in line with international human rights standards. Reform or replace Decree 81 (1996) on NGOs to comply with international human rights law, particularly Article 22 of the ICCPR.” the report stated.
The commission also wants the government to consider libel, defamation and media-related offenses, in general, as civil and not criminal offences.
“As such, in the event of prosecution, should be The Newspaper and Broadcasting Stations Act 1944 (as amended 2004) be repealed and replaced to reflect the current trends in Information and Communication technology,” the commission recommended.
It further recommended that the government to engage in comprehensive reforms to laws limiting the right to freedom of peaceful assembly to bring them into compliance with international human rights law.
“In particular the Public Order Act (repealing Sections 5 and 167), repealing Sections 15(A) and 72 of the Criminal Code, and the Indemnity Act” the report concluded.