Parental Insult Proposed Law Withdrawn after Public Outcry
The Ministry of Justice has released a statement on Saturday, indicating that it has now withdrawn the parental insult proposed law contained in the Criminal Offences Bill.
This came following the leaked screenshot of the proposed law earlier in the week, attracting an outpour. Several people took to social media to indicate their frustration over what they presumed to be a “reintroduction of dictatorship in the country”.
“The Ministry of Justice wishes to inform the general public that it will no longer present the proposed law that seeks to introduce the offence of parental insults in the Criminal Offences Bill. This withdrawal decision is as a result of concerns expressed from several quarters regarding the objectives and the possible effects of the said provision,” the Ministry said in a statement.
In the leaked screenshot, the provision states that: “Any person who insults, or does any act to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the person of the President, or Government of The Gambia as by law established, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not less than fifty thousand dalasis or a term of imprisonment of not less than one year or to both the fine and imprisonment.”
“Any person who directs parental insults to the President, Vice President, Cabinet Ministers, judicial officers, members of the national assembly or any public officer holding a public office or in exercise of his or her official functions, shall be held liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than ten thousand dalasis and not more than fifty thousand dalasis or a term of imprisonment of not less than one month and not more than six months or to both the fine and the imprisonment.”
The Ministry however states that the introduction of the said proposed law was simply intended to curtail the rise of unwarranted abuse and/or intimidation of public officers who serve the public every day. It denies the claims that the proposed law was intended to stifle freedom of expression and to shield public officers from public scrutiny.
Reacting to the Ministry’s withdrawal of the law, Madi Jobarteh, a human rights defender could not understand what led to such contemplation. He said the removal wasn’t enough as he demands public apology from the Ministry.
“It’s not that they don’t know. It’s clear that they only removed it because of public outcry! Therefore, they deserve no commendation whatsoever for deliberately misconducting themselves on a matter that they already know better,” he stated.
However, some hailed the government for listening to the people’s concerns.
The parental law has now been scrapped out of over 400 other provisions in the Revised Criminal Offences Bill, which is expected to be tabled before the National Assembly in its upcoming sittings. Several other bills that are also to be taken to the Assembly include the Anti-Corruption Bill and Media Services Bill.