Internet users in Gambia now have to be extra careful when making comments or post about their government as the Parliament legislation in has introduced a long jail term for anyone convicted of going online to make fun of the government or any public official.
The internet user will get up to 15 years of imprisonment or be fined a clean USD 90,000 for a raft of offences including spreading “false news” against or even “caricaturing” government functionaries and politicians.
Impersonation of public officials online or to commit any offense already considered criminal will also be viewed as vulgar will fall victim of the new sanctions.
“In the recent past, some citizens of the Gambia have waged concerted efforts to pit the people and the security officials of the Gambia against their government,” Information Minister Nana Grey-Johnson told parliament. “They do this by inciting the people to engage in unpatriotic behavior, spreading false news and engaging in criminal defamation against government officials. Such tendencies, if unchecked, are a recipe for chaos and instability in any country.”
Gambia is ruled with an iron fist by President Yahya Jammeh, who is often accused of silencing journalists, among other rights abuses. The country introduced new laws in April criminalizing male prostitution, cross-dressing and the singing of abusive songs in public.