The justice minister Abubacarr Tambadou has told journalists at a press conference on Tuesday that Government will not hesitate to apply the law on false publication on people who may have been found in contravention with the law.
Tambadou expressed concern at what he calls “a worrisome trend in the country”, referring to ‘misinformation’ either on the media or social media.
“While we want to encourage a culture of tolerance and the freedom of expression like in any democracy, this must not be equated with chaos or be used as an opportunity to tarnish the reputation of or smear innocent people,” Tambadou said.
“The tendency is that once an allegation is made against someone, many people rush to judgment and condemn them even when there is no evidence to support the allegation. We cannot accuse, try, and condemn people all in one scoop. It amounts to mob justice. Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence until they are found otherwise by law.
“Let me also take this opportunity to remind everyone that the publication of false news is still a criminal offence in this country as upheld recently by the Supreme Court and we will not hesitate to apply the law. I therefore encourage everyone to exercise and enjoy their right to freedom of expression without committing a crime because if they do, they will be held accountable.”
Tambadou has been a subject of intense criticism by some Gambians who held him responsible for “ill-advising” government to award country’s national identification card to a Belgian company that is currently being investigated for corruption.
The justice minister has always maintained his position that Semlex has a valid contract with Gambia government and cannot therefore be denied the contract.
Meanwhile, the Justice Minister has also informed journalists that the Janneh Commission is currently working on its draft report, bringing the investigation to an end.
He said his ministry, as part of their major work plan for 2019, will be working prison reform in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior, electoral reform in collaboration with the Independent Electoral Commission and criminal justice legislative reform.
The justice ministry has also informed journalists on the formation of national human rights commission, Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation and Commission and anti-corruption commission, among others.