Justice Jobarteh is sacked – one month after presiding over a ‘widely criticised’ false information law

21 May
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Also, under his watch, Jobarteh presided over the adoption of a new law that criminalises male prostitution, cross-dressing, and the singing abusive songs in public. (Photo: Daily Observer)

By Modou S. Joof

The Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh on Monday sacked his Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Lamin Jobarteh, who presided over a “widely criticised” false information law last month.

A statement from the Presidency stated that Jobarteh is relieved of his ministerial position with immediate effect. Jobarteh, who served in that position for one year three months, is replaced by Justice Amie Joof.

The statement noted that both the sacking and the new appointment take effect from May 20, 2013. It fall-short of explaining the reason behind Mr Jobarteh’s removal to the general public, to whom the statement is addressed.

On April 16, 2013, the National Assembly amended Section 114 of the Criminal Code that empowers courts to impose a jail term of five years or a fine of D50, 000 (about USD1, 650) on convicts of false information.

Cropped version of :Image:Gambia President Yah...

The Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh on Monday announce the sacking of Justice Minister Lamin Jopbarteh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The law previously allowed a jail term of not more than six months or a fine of D500 (about USD17) or both.

Rights groups criticised the false information law, saying it is “intended” to gag press freedom and freedom of expression

.

Also, under his watch, Jobarteh presided over the adoption of a new law that criminalises male prostitution, cross-dressing, and the singing abusive songs in public.

The law says: “Any male person who dresses or is attired in the fashion of a woman in a public place or who practices sodomy as a means of livelihood or as a profession shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years or with a fine of D20, 000 or with both.”

 

The amendments to the Criminal Code Act also criminalize “being irritating in public” and “refusing to maintain” oneself.

Mr Jobarteh, who brought the amendments of the Criminal Code to the National Assembly, claims the move reflects “current sociopolitical realities”.

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