Saturday, May 7, 2011

Inherited colonial laws undermine human freedom


Almamy Taal, near right
Mr. Almamy Taal, a lawyer and the Chief Executive Officer, CEO Real Time Consulting has blamed colonial laws as undermining human rights and freedom of expression in The Gambia.
The laws, inherited since post independence, still remain in our Constitution, he said during a presentation on “A Legal and Regulatory Perspective: Better protection for Freedom of Expression in the Age of Digital Communications” on World Press Freedom Day 2011.
The event, organised by the Gambia Press Union and funded by the National Commission for UNESCO in Banjul, was held at the TANGO Conference Hall, Bakau, May 3, 2011 under the theme “21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barrier”.
Mr. Taal noted that laws are made by men and women in the country and should reflect on the value that we started to live way back on. Some parts of the body of our laws were instituted during colonial rule and thereafter inherited and we’ve been facing the problem for long.
He said The Gambia is going through “interesting times” and together we are searching for inspiration, seeking guidance and yearning for leadership but unfortunately, our country has yet to form the habit of undergoing complex and meaningful examination of its foundations, its values and its institutions.
For this reason, he said that “we are not in a position to dig deep within ourselves, take careful observations and focus on repairing our nation’s soul”. Such trying times are common for us as Africans to invoke and seek the wisdom of our elders.
For him, “We must question whether the very notions of regulation and freedom of expression do not exist in contradiction to each other”.
“After 1994 the definitions appeared to be rather simple - “the old regime was corrupt and ineffective” and slogans abounds as with all revolutions, “transparency”, “accountability” and “probity”.
According to him, the most important question thrown up by the constitutional government include the use of the rule of law to perform social engineering feats; developing state and non-state institutions as part of instruments of transformations, oversight of government implementation of laws regulations and policies, mass mobilization of funds through taxes and accountability.
However, he said the challenges that need to be addressed are how to use the state creatively to pursue sectoral and general interests. “The people in whose name the government exist have to continuously ask tough question and if these are the challenges of the present government, what then of the challenges of rights to free expression in ago overflowing with tools of mass communication, and our obligations.”

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