(JollofNews)- Whistleblowers should be protected and the archaic laws should be expunged from our statutory books.
I also believe that whistleblowers should be encouraged and protected, not arrested and detained; and certainly not under any law like the colonial-era Official Secrets Act.
I recall as Jammeh became more and more paranoid, he got the Justice minister Fafa Mbai to institute civil service-wide taking of the oath of secrecy. Somehow, I was among the lucky few whom they forgot to make us take the oath. Indeed., it is one of the laws we journalists have identified for repeal under any comprehensive review of what we call draconian laws which hinder our work.
It provides for “spying” which charge Jammeh had used against an Amnesty International team which came to Banjul, and held a training workshop I and several others like Sam Sarr of Foroyaa attended. As part of their visit, I came to learn, they went upcountry to research and were arrested held briefly for “spying” then expel from the country!
So, the Official Secrets Act should be expunged from our statute books as they could use it in the manner you described to stifle Edward Snowden-type whistleblowing and investigative journalism of the sort which unearths and exposes corruption, mismanagement, maladministration etc. Now about the case of SIS (former NIA) legal officer Badjie, we can say from what we learned that it is a case of whistleblowing – which should be encouraged in the New Gambia.
In fact, there should be a law to encourage and protect those who want to whistle-blow on the institution or company they work for, whether in the public and private sector. I am aware that this is being given thought to in some states – please find out where and let’s share the information. In any case, what Badjie has revealed should give us all great cause for concern.
His allegations should be investigated by the Barrow govt., and he should be receiving state protection not detained – and I hope it’s not the SIS doing the detaining as we all agreed that the new outfit should cease to have the abusive powers of arrest, detention and torture it wielded under Jammeh. If Badjie is accused of any crime, it should be a police matter; and certainly, he must not be charged under the Official Secrets Act as that should not happen in OUR New Gambia.
By Alieu Sagnia
The author was a former director of Information of The Gambia.