Thursday, October 25, 2012

Criminal case against two Gambian journalists ‘killed’

Mr. Baboucarr Ceesay (L) and Abubacarr Saidykhan were charged "for wanting to demonstrate peacefully" PHOTO/Daily News

The Voice newspaper has gathered that the criminal charges brought against two Gambian journalists who requested a permit to demonstrate peacefully against the August execution of nine death row prisoners is “death and buried”.

The case which dragged for more than a month without legal proceedings was finally “killed” on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 following a meeting the two journalists had with the authorities upon the invitation of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Lamin Jobarteh.

This paper learned the order to drop the charges of “incitement to violence, conspiracy to commitfelony, and seditious intention” came from the Gambian President, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhagie Doctor Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, who hold a “prerogative of mercy”.

President Jammeh is said to have called on the relevant authorities to immediately drop the charges levelled against Babucarr Ceesay and Abubacarr Saidykhan.

The two journalists cum human rights activists Abubacarr Saidykhan, an independent freelancer and member of the Gambia Press Union and his colleague Baboucarr Ceesay, the first vice president of the Gambia Press Union and a correspondent for the Nairobi-based Africa Review were arrested on September 6, 2012 by the Police of the Criminal Investigation Unit.

Their arrest and subsequent detention followed the pair’s request of a permit from the Inspector General of Police to hold a peaceful demonstration against the recent execution of the nine death row inmates.

The good news to drop the charges followed manifested boredom by the two journalists who resorted to writing articles on their ordeal after they feel no headway was being made despite reporting regularly to the Interpol Unit in Banjul as required by the police.

"Both of you must understand that this country belongs to all of us and we must uphold the peace and security of this country. I cannot just understand why you prefer to demonstrate peacefully after knowing the repercussions of a peaceful demonstration," Justice Minister Jobarteh is reported to have said during the meeting at the AG Chambers which was held in consultation with his Legal Secretary and Solicitor General Mr. Pa Harry Jammeh.  

This paper also gathered that the Justice Minister admitted it is correct that to demonstrate peacefully is a constitutional provision. He also noted that the National Assembly also has the legal discretion to review or not to review the death penalty after looking at the circumstances surrounding this provision.

The Voice also gathered that issue regarding one of the prerogative order that could be file by the two journalists at the High Court for the Court to order the National Assembly Members to act with the use of the Motion of "Mandamus" was also pose to the minister, but he argued as to the "Locus Standi" or a legal authority that the two journalists have to file that Motion at the High Court? 

“The minister was reminded that every citizen of the Republic of the Gambia has the "Locus Standi" to take up the issue of the Death Penalty as a National Issue,” The Voice further gathered. 

Section 18 subsection (1) (2) and (3) clearly talks about the provision of the Death Penalty which has to be followed by the custodians of the Constitution.

Beside the two journalists, the minister of justice and the solicitor general, the meeting was also attended by the Crime Management Coordinator Lamin Sanyang, the Officer in Charge of Prosecution Yahya Touray, the Officer Commanding of the Criminal Investigation Unit Mr. Bojang and the Director of Public Prosecution Mr. S.H. Barkum, this paper can tell.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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