Counsel: Convicting activist ‘defies reason, logic, legal principles’

By Sanna Camara

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Opposition leader prepares to address a press conference, as gadgets such as iPads nd mobile phones are set to transit messages

Counsel for the opposition activist convicted fobroadcasting without license using skype has said that the decision of the court I his view “defies reason, it e court on activist  defies logic and it defies legal principles, how anyone can be charged and convicted of broadcasting when you do not operate any of the broadcasting medium – television or radio.”

Mr Darboe, who is the leader of the main opposition United Democratic Party said: “I have never in my practice been so shocked and disappointed with a judgment as this one. I never had the slightest imagination or thinking that this case would end up in the conviction of Lasana Jobarteh.” He made this reaction to the judgment as he and his party folks walked into the court to pay up D50, 000 fine as imposed by the court, in default to serve one year jail term.

According to Mr darboe, the definition of broadcasting in the Information and Communication Act talks about the person who has the editorial responsibility for the contents of a programme that are aired on TV or radio. “What is even more compelling is that the legislation is supposed to regulate broadcasting in the Gambia, and not outside the Gambia. The Gambian parliament has no authority and power to legislate extra-territorially. Their legislation can only operate within the Gambia and not outside the Gambia.”

UDP Court fine
Opposition leader (center), flanked by UDP’s Jarra Central parliamentarian Kemesseng Jammeh (left) and Jobarteh

“I realised that the magistrate relied on the view that Mr Jobarteh conducted interview with Freedom Radio Online and Kibaroo News Online. These are broadcasting institutions that are operating outside the Gambia… is The Gambia the right authority to regulate these institutions? What is even more alarming and disturbing is that if I grant an interview to Voice of America (VOA), RFI or BBC, which I do often by means of my iPad, then I will be guilty of broadcasting, and that is opening up greater avenues for the suppression of dissemination of other views that are contrary to the APRC (the ruling party).

“It is the most ill-considered judgment: it defies reason, it defies logic and defies all legal principles. However, it is the beauty of the legal system that we inherited from the colonialists – that if you are not satisfied with a judgment of a court, you have avenues to appeal against it. We will file a judgment [against the judgment] in the next two days,” he said.

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