By Rohey Jadama
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubacarr Tambedou, has intimated to a panel of five judges at the Supreme Court presided over by the Chief Justice Hassan B. Jallow, that they are not contesting sections of the Criminal Code and Communication Act dealing with Criminal Defamation and False Publication on the internet respectively, but they are contesting section 181(A) of the Code .
When the case was called yesterday, 6 June 2017, the Attorney General and Justice Minister informed the court, that they wished to abandon the case in so far as section 51, 52(A), 53, 54 and 55 and that they are not also contesting section 178,179 and 180 of the Criminal code(CPC) respectively, which are criminal defamation and publication of false News on the Internet, but they are contesting section 181(A) which is Publication on false News.
“We believe that the provisions of the CC are unreasonable restriction to fundamental human right”, said the Attorney General.
He told the court that they wished to apply for leave in order to amend their statement of the case and to make clarity in order to assist the court to arrive at a just decision.
However, Lawyer Hawa Sisay-Sabally, lawyer for the Plaintiffs said the Supreme Court is a court of records. She said Lawyer Tambedou should come formally. “I don’t want an amendment that will prejudice our case. Let him come formally”, she submitted.
Lawyer Tambedou told the court that he needs 21 days to file their statement of claim. Without any objection from Lawyer Sisay-Sabally, the court granted the application of the Attorney General.
The 1st plaintiff is Bai Emil Touray, the current President of GPU and Baboucarr Ceesay the former 1st Vice President of GPU is the 2nd Plaintiff. The third Plaintiff is Saikou Jammeh Touray and Ceesay were all present in court.
It could be recalled that the GPU in 2015, filed a civil suit against the Gambia government for the repeal of sedition and false publication laws. The Plaintiffs in the case of Sedition and False Publication are GPU represented by Emil Touray, Baboucarr Ceesay and Saikou Jameh are also plaintiffs. In the second case of Criminal Defamation and False Publication on the Internet, GPU is the first Plaintiff represented by Emil Touray, second plaintiff is Emil Touray and third plaintiff is Saikou Jammeh. The State has conceded that False Publication on the Internet, Criminal Defamation and Sedition are unconstitutional, but is opposing GPU’s application on False Publication and Broadcasting.
The Gambia Government under the stewardship of President Yahya Jammeh has in the past used these laws to muzzle freedom of expression.
The case was adjourned till the next session of the Supreme Court.