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Today is the Day of Infamy. Abolish Sedition!

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Ebrima Dibba of UDP and IGP Seedy Touray

By Madi Jobarteh

Today, eight years after the end of tyranny a citizen, Ebrima Dibba has been charged with sedition by the Gambia Government because the IGP claims Dibba insulted President Adama Barrow. The presence of sedition in the law in itself is an insult to the Constitution and the Republic. To charge a citizen with sedition is to throw the Gambia back to the 13th century and elevate the President to the position of a King. Indeed, today is the day of infamy!

Three hundred and sixty three years ago, in 1661, King Charles II of England created the Sedition Act purposely to punish anyone who wrote, printed or preached any words against the King. The title of the Act was, “An Act for Safety and Preservation of His Majesties Person and Government against Treasonable and Seditious Practices and Attempts.” Through colonialism over the centuries, the British took this obnoxious idea to all parts of the world including the Gambian in 1940.

But the British, having become more civilized and democratic realized that sedition or insult laws are not fit for a civilized society and so in 2009 the UK Parliament abolished the Sedition Act of 1661. The British Government stated this for the reason to abolish the law,

“Sedition and seditious and defamatory libel are arcane offences from a bygone era when freedom of expression wasn’t seen as the right it is today… the existence of these obsolete offences in this country had been used by other countries as justification for retention of similar laws which have been actively used to suppress political dissent and restrict freedom.”

Well before the UK abolished sedition altogether some countries such as the US, Australia or Canada had earlier revised their sedition laws to limit it only to the use of words or force seeking to change the government unconstitutionally or criticism of their war efforts. Today, an application for the abolition of sedition is before the Supreme Court in India. Even when some people in 2019 petitioned the UK Parliament to reintroduce sedition because they think there are individuals seeking to undermine democracy, the UK Government and the Monarchy in their country, the Parliament still rejected their petition.

Therefore, why would the Gambia Government charge anyone with sedition in 2024. Already the same Government had submitted a bill to review the Criminal Code with the intention of abolishing sedition. Is it not contradictory that a Government that is seeking the abolition of sedition will now go back to using the same sedition to charge a citizen?

Clearly, Ebrima Dibba has committed no offense. Rather, he is merely being punished unjustifiably and unfairly for severely condemning the President, which is his fundamental right. Today is a very sad day for the Gambia. It is a day to be remembered as the saddest betrayal of the people by the President of the Gambia and the IGP and the Attorney General! To charge a citizen with sedition in a Republic tantamount to making the President an untouchable King!

It is unfortunate that the institutions created and mandated to protect the sovereign rights of citizens and uphold the Constitution have turned into the foremost weapons of oppression to trample upon the rights of our people. This action by the Gambia Police Force highlights the incompetence, complicity, and unprofessionalism of the IGP in aiding and abetting tyranny in our land. Today, if anyone is ever in doubt, know that the Gambia is indeed a full-blown dictatorship!

Charging any citizen with sedition only exposes the fact that the IGP is not acting according to legal and professional standards and ethics. Rather this politically motivated action by the IGP shows that he is succumbing to the whims and caprices of politicians. It means IGP Seedy Touray has betrayed his authority in the Police Act by allowing external persons to direct and control this noble national institution for their selfish interests.

Let me put it to the President Adam Barrow, the IGP Seedy Muctarr Touray and the Attorney General Dawda Jallow that the Gambia is not a kingdom but a Republic in which sovereignty and power reside in the people. President Barrow is not a king. Hence to criticize and condemn President Adama Barrow is not and cannot be a crime. If the President does not wish to be criticized and condemned, then let him not also criticize and condemn anyone. After all, he is nothing but the Chief Mbindaan of the People, and not the Mansa or Burr.

From today the IGP Seedy Muctarr Touray will go down in history as one of the biggest destroyers of the sovereignty of the people of the Gambia and the Constitution. Today is a day of infamy!


For The Gambia Our Homeland

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