Former Minister Regrets Defending Jammeh’s Internet Laws

By Abdoulie John

The frmer Information Minister has expressed regret for his role in helping ousted Gambian dictator to come up with draconian internet laws destined for crushing dissent in the cyberspace. Nana Grey-Johnson described the move as the ‘lowest point’ in his life.

Mr. Grey-Johnson’s comments come on the sidelines of the just concluded validation workshop on the code of conduct for media practitioners. As a leading figure in Gambian media, Mr. Grey-Johnson made headlines in 2013 for endorsing and championing obnoxious internet laws aimed at not only censoring dissenting views, but also levying heavy fines. The Deen of the School Journalism and Digital Media at the University of The Gambia said it was the erstwhile Justice Minister who engineered everything. Mr. Grey-Johnson said when he asked about the relevancy of the heavy fines, the Justice Minister told him that the decision to policing the internet was a directive coming from the ‘big man.’

“When you have been called to duty, you are constantly expecting that the one who called you to national duty would create the enabling environment,” he remarked with tone of disappointment.

Nana Grey-Johnson added that with the way things were unfolding, he knew very well that he would not last long in the government. Jammeh relieved Johnson from his post after serving nine months in office.

When asked whether the manipulations he was subjected to constitute an attack against his integrity, he responded in the affirmative. “I could have resigned. That is the easy way out,” he pointed out while indicating that he was with the opinion that he could have made changes from within rather than ‘screaming’ outside. Many people wondered why it took the former minister too much time to set the record straight, Nana Grey-Johnson said there is a time for everything under the sun.

With regard to the new trends in the media, the Chairman of the newly formed Media Council of The Gambia expect journalists to first assume their responsibility in society before claiming any rights. “If you do not understand your own responsibility, you just claim for rights. The journalist must be aware of the values of the profession,” Nana Grey-Johnson said.


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