Alagi Yorro Jallow

The Gambian police must not mistake the concept and principles freedom of speech and of expression for hate speech. The principles of freedom of expression and, of speech is a right enshrined in our constitution and may only be limited as prescribed in law. In some of these “hate speech” perpetrators must face justice, I think the police are abusing due process.

There is a thin line between freedom of speech, and of expression and hate speech. The police must not use the penal code to muzzle freedom of speech and of, expression in the guise of fighting hate speech.

We must resist all retrogressive effort that retards us back to the days of gagging, silencing, and disappearing citizens. Even assuming the sponsors were politicians we don’t like, our rights to free speech must also be protected and those incite hate speech must be punished.

On hate speech among Gambians, I think the Diaspora Gambians gets the medal for extreme tribalism of a most disturbing nature, especially displayed in open online forums. Sometimes just good old dreadful witch-hunts. The police need to act, set an example.

The police must be serious if we are to fight hate speech, incitement of hate and contempt in our country. The way the police inaction about the current agitation of hate speech, bigotry, narcissism, misogyny and tribalism are amateurish and largely unprofessional. Why are perpetrators for inciting hate speech are not arrested, charged and arraigned before our courts with hate speech and incitement of violence.

The police fixation with drama, even where such drama is unnecessary – what is stopping the police force from arresting party supporters and surrogates in cases of hate speech, incitement of violence that can be successfully prosecuted before our courts or build strong cases capable of prosecution.

I am convinced that hate speech and incitement of hate is reactionary to appease and diffuse public anger from the sadistic utterances by party supporters. Whereas a few leaders have made utterances capable of being considered hate speech and incitement of violence. Majority of those attacked in the minority are victims of bigotry, hate speech, harassment, intimidation and misogyny.

It seems there is the Gambia Police for a section of the citizenry and another “Gambia Police” for the rest of us. The police MUST be consistent in their actions. What does it mean when the government says the police force is “apolitical” must be seen in action and not in empty rhetoric during press conferences.

We must condemn hate speech and equally stand up for freedom of speech and of expression. If we do not, then the Inspector- General of Police may just summon haters actions against people!