By Bakary Ceesay
In fulfillment of its promise to engage in a comprehensive institutional and legislative reforms of the governance architecture to bring them in line with international justice and human rights standards, the Cabinet, under the leadership of President Adama Barrow, has approved and endorsed the draft Access to Information and the Media Operations bills as well as the draft Criminal Offenses bill and the Criminal Procedure bill.
The Minister of Justice, Abubakarr Tambadou, who presented the Bills before Cabinet colleagues, stated that the momentous decision, which when passed by the National Assembly, will advance the cause of press freedom and freedom of speech and expression.
‘‘We have also had the opportunity to advance, through legislation, our freedom of expression agenda’’, Minister Tambadou said on Thursday following intensive two-day Cabinet deliberations.
‘’Cabinet has today endorsed the draft freedom of information bill and the media services bill; both of which will go a long way to strengthening the media in this country. But also to promote and facilitate the exercise of the right to freedom of expression’’.
Similarly, Cabinet also considered and approved the draft Criminal Offenses bill and the Criminal Procedure bill to ensure that it caters to the needs of the modern international justice standards.
While admitting that the legislative reforms are long overdue, the Justice Minister was quick to add that the review was holistic and encompasses laws dating as far back as the Independence era.
‘’That is why it has taken us quite a while to have a comprehensive review of some of the most important legislation in the country since independence. The criminal code and the criminal procedure code was last revised in 1993. That’s a long time and so we have had a comprehensive review of those two pieces of legislation’’, he added.
When enacted, the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code would subsequently be called the Criminal Offenses Act and the Criminal procedure act, respectively.
The Justice Minister also announced the approval of Cabinet to eliminate ‘’almost 95% of discriminatory laws against women’’ while highlighting that the overall number of bills considered and approved summed to nine (9).
The bills will be presented to the National Assembly on 2nd and 3rd December 2019.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure, Ebrima Sillah also announced that Cabinet has graciously endorsed the itinerary of the 2019 President’s Meet the People Tour.