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Public Order Act stands as independent judges deliver a brave verdict

ba tambadou

We hail the wise judgment of the new constituted and widely seen as an independent supreme court into the legality of the public order act as far as the rights of Gambians to assemble and protest as guaranteed under the 1997 constitution. The bench of mainly Gambians disagreed and delivered a resounding judgement for the state, declaring that the constitution provides for curtailment of that right and it is reasonable. 

This paper celebrates the bravery of the judges and urge them to maintain their independence in the face of mounting pressure from social media pundits and even from our newly founded human rights organisations. We agree with the judgment due to the fact that this act is not that onerous and is in fact found in advance democracies as a permit is needed in almost all countries in the world. 

We urge the police, however not to use the public order act as a sword to go after and or refuse permits to political opponents but as shield to protect the public against riots and public order breakdowns and hope they will not allow themselves to be used by politicians for their own personal gains, as that is not only illegal, but unprofessional and shameful. 

This paper is still hopeful the government will come to their senses and do the right thing by standing down from their challenge to action and their stance in supporting the maintaining of the publication of false information act, i.e. criminalising libel instead of allowing the offended to take the matter to court in a civil suit. This provision has been removed from almost all civil countries as it is used to stifle dissent and protect the reputation of political figures rather than protect the decency of the population for which it is intended. This is a blight on their records as they will be known as the government that failed to fully change the system. 

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