The ministry of Justice has withdrawn the parental insults provision in the revised Criminal Offences Bill after a huge public outcry.

The proposed bill, which was seeking to criminalise the insulting of parents of public officials including the president, was described as “anti-democratic” and “draconian” by a large section of the Gambian society.

In a press release on Saturday, the Justice ministry said it had heeded the public outcry and withdrawn the parental insults provision from the bill.

The press statement said:

“The Ministry wishes to inform the general public that the introduction of the said proposed law was simply intended to stem the rise of unwarranted abuse and/or intimidation of public officers who serve the public everyday and these include civil servants, police officers, judicial officers, National Assembly members etc.

“Contrary to some claims, the proposed law was neither intended to stifle freedom of expression nor to shield public officers from public scrutiny.

The Ministry’s press release

“The Ministry has therefore considered that this single legal provision on parental insults, which is only one among over four hundred other provisions in the revised Criminal Offences Bill that we will be seeking to enact before the National Assembly, threatens to overshadow all the hard work invested in this process, and the more fundamental and far reaching reforms of our governance architecture in general and the criminal justice landscape of our country in particular.

“These includes enacting an anti-corruption commission bill, an access to information bill, a media service bill, a women’s anti-discrimination bill, and above all, a new draft constitution to usher in the renewed hope going into a Third Republic.

“These are exciting times in our country and the sense of optimism imbued by these progressive constitutional and legislative reforms must not be allowed to be overshadowed by our disagreements over one single legal provision.

“The Ministry further reassures the public that it is firmly committed to its governance reform agenda and that it will always take on-board the concerns of citizens as it shapes this agenda in the best interest of all in our country.”

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