According to the Media Foundation of West Africa, the Gambia government has warned that it might restrict online freedoms in the country.
The foundation alleges that the Head of Civil Service and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Momodou Sabally, has given notice to higher authorities, religious leaders and cabinet members at the official seat of government, the State House.
The Minister, consequently warned Gambians, particularly the youth against participating in online campaigns against the government. “If you cannot say anything good about the country, then you should keep quiet,” he exclaimed.
The media foundation has also stated its objections to the new laws that aim to restrict the critism of the government through online media.
The law imposes a jail term of 15 years and/or a fine of three million dalasis (about US$90,000) on persons who criticize government officials, caricature or instigate violence against the government through the internet.
“We call on the religious leaders to recognize the importance of the internet, which remains the only platform for freedom of expression and participation in public discourse among Gambians, as traditional media outlets are already cowed from airing programmes which are critical of the government,” the foundation said in a statement.
This comes months after the Gambian government issued a warning about banning online dating sites and the use of Skype before quickly retracting the statement.