The ruling followed a civil action filed by the Media Foundation for West Africa (Accra) national partner organisation, the Gambia Press Union (GPU) in April 2017.
According to the law on false publication on the internet, anyone who used the internet to spread false news against the government or public officials, abuse or use of derogatory statement against a person or character of a public official, could be charged.
It prescribed a fine of 3 million Dalasis (about US$63, 800) or imprisonment for 15 years or both.
The court ruling stated: “This court finds no reasonable justification for shielding persons who hold or occupy public office by criminalising criticism against them without appropriate safeguards for legitimate criticism. A person should not merely be prosecuted for having the audacity to criticise his or her government or any public functionary for that matter.”
Hawa Sisay-Sabally, lead counsel for the GPU said, “Speech will no longer be criminalised in The Gambia. I think we can safely say that journalists can now enjoy their work”.
Angela Quintal, The Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) Africa Programme Coordinator welcomed the court’s decision.
“The decision is one step forward. We urge the government of President Adam Barrow who pledged to champion media freedom to uphold his word by urgently enacting legislative reforms,” she said.
From: ITWeb Africa