Alagi Yorro Jallow

(JollofNews) –  “Don’t expose your father’s nakedness -Genesis 9:17-27
There is a blessing in covering our father’s nakedness -spiritual- earthly
It’s a curse to exposé or not respecting men of God and our leaders”

Freedom of expression is a hallmark of democracy as its unfettered enjoyment contributes to functional democracy that encourages citizen participation for good governance and accountability. Every citizen is supposed to be protected. Sovereign people should not make heads of states as demi-god. There are no special laws for the president. Every citizen is equal before the law unless otherwise.

A law granting special protection against defamation or insult of public officials is an anachronism that cannot be justified in a modern democracy. It is now well established under international law that such officials should tolerate more, rather than less, criticism than ordinary citizens. Laws granting them higher protection must be abolished.

Protecting heads of state or public officials from criticism solely because of their function or status cannot be reconciled with modern democracy and violates both international conventions om freedom of expression standards.

President Macky Sall of Senegal and his colleagues in the African Union should repeal sections of the penal code that impede the enjoyment of freedom of expression that individuals should not be criminalized for merely expressing themselves. By criminalizing ‘insulting the president’ will threaten even newspaper cartoonists for their satirical art work. Every civilized society’s constitution guarantee freedom of expression which include criticizing the president.

Amy Colle Dieng

For every intent and purposes, these “insult” laws have become moribund worldwide and represents the old-school of thought – that a King cannot err! That the crown is infallible!

Musician Amy Collé Dieng was arrested Thursday evening by elements of the Criminal Investigations Division (Dic) after broadcasting an audio element on which it is meant to attack virulently president Macky Sall. She risks serving seven years in jail if guilty.

In a long-sustained democracy like Senegal, criminal sanctions remain available for defamation and that those sanctions are almost four times higher when defaming public officials as opposed to private individuals. African governments need to abolish all anachronistic provisions of freedom of expression and speech laws and bring its legislation in compliance with international freedom of expression standards.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental right to be enjoyed by all citizens that individuals should not be criminalized for merely expressing themselves. In democracy, we should be very accommodating of criticizing. Laws such as these [insulting the President] have no place in a democracy that guarantees freedom of expression.