Cocaine Traffickers’ Conviction and Its Implications
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Bravo to the Gambian justice system for successfully prosecuting and convicting those mainly foreign nationals who were caught with importing more than a ton of cocaine found in the country last year, no doubt bound for the markets in the West.
The very fact that the Gambian justice system has succeeded in proving wrong all the skeptics and going ahead to successfully convict the traffickers is quite a plus for the judiciary and also a sign of a political will on the part of the Gambian authorities to tackle the growing menace of drug trafficking in the West Africa sub-region.
However, the question in many people’s lips, and which has not been answered by the conviction, is how such a huge amount of hard drugs managed to be smuggled into The Gambia without the authorities being aware of it.
Therefore, it beats the imagination of many people that no top ranking Gambian was among those convicted when it is neigh impossible that such a huge amount of cocaine could have been brought into the country without the help and connivance of people right at the very top.
It is therefore highly possible that what we have seen is just the tip of the iceberg but those who bear greater responsibility for The Gambia being transformed into a narco-state are yet to be apprehended.
And unless those people are apprehended and severely dealt with, the authorities are fighting a losing battle against drug trafficking.
We can only however hope that it is not a question of ‘setting a thief to catch the thief,’ like we had seen in countries like Guinea Bissau and Guinea Conakry under Lansana Konte where those at the very top of the political and military hierarchy were involved in protecting the traffickers. In such a situation therefore, it would be impossible to put a stop to the menace
Another concern to some people is what has become of the ton of cocaine recovered from the traffickers.
Has it been destroyed and if so, by whom and in whose presence? These are quite legitimate questions which are of interest to both Gambians and those in the West where the cocaine was destined to be sold.
Therefore, the whereabouts of the cocaine is of paramount importance and everyone both at home and the whole world are therefore focusing their radars on The Gambia government to see what is going to happen to that one billion dollar worth lethal weapon in their hands.
The Gambian authorities are also faced with the obligation to explain to both the Dutch government and the family of one of the accused, a Dutch national who was reported to have died in custody, barely three days before judgment was delivered.
While there is yet no explanation to the circumstances of his death, but it is no doubt another indictment of The Gambia’s prison conditions.
It has once again brought to the fore the perennial complaints about the harsh conditions in the country’s prisons.
There have been several complaints of poor conditions in the country’s prisons; including reported deaths in custody.
We can also recall the complaints recently made by the former information minister Amadou Scattred Janneh, who has been in detention since June, about his treatment in detention.
It is therefore quite necessary that the Gambian authorities should undertake some urgent reforms of the country’s penal system in order to ward off the bad name it is giving the country.
Certainly, ignoring these complaints by the Gambian authorities will not make them go away and therefore, the only solution is to appropriately address them.