ProXPN Fights Gambian Crackdown on Free Speech

A bill ratified by Gambia’s National Assembly in June poses severe penalties for speaking against the government and public officials. This crackdown on free speech has crippled online activism and proXPN steps in to assure Gambian citizens, online journalists, social media activists and bloggers that it will continue to provide VPN services to help them overcome this obstacle.

The New Section 114 Penalties

Many activists on whom the general public relies to report news of abuses are experiencing heavy restrictions on their online freedom of expression. Media analysts believe that the amendment to Section 114 of the Criminal Code was meant to deal harshly with anyone speaking against the Gambian ruling APRC and other government authorities. The Bill imposes a 15-year jail term or a fine of up to 3 million Dalasi, equivalent to US$82,000. Section 114 previously allowed a 6 month maximum jail term and fines not to exceed US$17. The push to ratify the amendment was led by President Yahya Jammeh, though the House is notorious for passing draconian laws.

Article 19 on Gambian Free Expression Commitments

Article 19, a group of international press freedom crusaders, immediately spoke up against the harsh bill. They found significant flaws in the laws that covered the regulation of Gambian media and free speech. The also reiterated the history of the tireless harassment and intimidation of journalists and human rights defenders in Gambia. Article 19 Regional Representative for West Africa Fatou Jagne Senghore pointed out that this new law starkly conflicts with all of Gambia’s obligations under international and regional standards with regard to free expression. ProXPN supports Article 19 in its stand on the need for all people to have the freedom and opportunity to speak out and conduct public debate without fear. Fatou Jagne Senghore further stated that the media will not be able to properly carry out its critical role in an environment where journalists and human rights defenders are in legal and physical danger.

Article 19 identified the amendment provisions that conflict with Gambia’s commitment on free speech rights. They listed the registration requirements for newspapers as the first conflict. Broadcasting regulators also lack independence. The group also explained how the provisions of the Information and Communications Act 2009 interfere with online communication in a way which is unjustifiable. Another instance is how the speech-related offences are not clearly defined. The broad inclusion of seditious libel, criminal defamation, and publication of false news leaves many open to undue criminal penalties under the revised Criminal Code. Article 19 is concerned about the continued violation of Gambian citizens’ right to freedom of expression, the pressure placed on the media, the daily harassment, and arbitrary arrests and violence against journalists, human rights defenders and political opponents.

ProXPN Against Continued Restriction of Freedom of Expression in Gambia

Gambian laws regulating free speech have become more and more strict over the past 10 years. The legal framework has been reviewed several times to further constrain the media and human rights defenders. They are now facing harsh penalties for doing their jobs and live in constant fear. ProXPN has always been very clear on their position when it comes to internet regulation and restricting freedom of speech. They offer their support to all social media activists, bloggers, online journalists, and any citizens who feel the need to speak out. ProXPN can provide these people with secure VPN services that will help them stay safe from unwarranted penalties as they report and debate on issues that concern the Gambian people.

ProXPN is against any move to restrict freedoms of expression. They extend their VPN technology to the Gambian people, encouraging free thinkers to take advantage of the VPN technology they offer. The proXPN VPN can give them the ability to stay anonymous as they report the true news online. With the proXPN VPN, all internet users can enjoy private and secure online communications and the freedom to move around on the internet despite location based restrictions. The Gambian people no longer need to fear harsh penalties for speaking out when they are secured by a service like proXPN. With a proXPN premium account, users will get additional protection from VPN Guard, which cuts all data transfers in the event that the VPN connection fails. This makes sure that all data is either encrypted during transmission or held back if there’s a system error, making it impossible for unencrypted data to be intercepted by ISP or government snoopers. ProXPN firmly believes in the right to individual privacy and security online as people exercise their freedom of expression.

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