Justice Minister says encouragement of freedom of expression must not be equated with chaos

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EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA: Justice Minister says encouragement of freedom of expression must not be equated with chaos.

Gambia’s Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou said on Tuesday that the government has noticed a worrisome trend in the country which must be addressed.

“While we want to encourage a culture of tolerance and 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.”

During his monthly press conference with journalists at the Justice Ministry in Banjul, Minister 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,” he said.

He reminded journalists that publication of false news is still a criminal offence in the country as upheld recently by the Supreme Court and they will not hesitate to apply the law on any defaulter. “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.

Mr. Tambadou said people must not push the boundaries of Gambia’s new found freedoms to irresponsible or unacceptable limits, saying when such are done, they hurt others and their families in the process. “The law is here to protect everyone including the accuser and the accused.:

He said his comments are not intended to address any specific events as there has been too many such events in the country recently.

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