Impunity on the rise in The Gambia
Friday, December 23, 2011
Dear Editor, Reference to the recent news item on the death of one Alpha Omar Jobe of Manjai Kunda, barely a week after he was allegedly arrested and detained by officials of the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA) on allegations of dealing in drugs. It is indeed quite worrisome, coming barely two weeks after two other NDEA officials who were also accused of the torture to death of another young man, Cherno Alieu Suwareh of Bakau Sanchaba, were acquitted and discharged by the Special Criminal Court, no doubt to the utter surprise and disappointment of Suwareh’s family as well as many other people, particularly those who claimed to have witnessed his arrest and alleged torture in the hands of the NDEA operatives. While the NDEA are quite in order to arrest and detain those they suspect of dealing in drugs, but certainly those people also have their basic human rights that need to be respected and protected. It is not only unlawful but also quite inhuman to subject anyone to beatings and torture, as alleged in this instance, let alone mere suspects who have not even yet been taken before a court of law. These sort of stories are really giving the Gambian security forces as well as the legal system a very bad name. Indeed, the insensitivity displayed by the police in this particular case is yet another indication of the distance between our security forces and people they are employed to provide security. It is quite hard to imagine that both the NDEA who are accused of the manhandling of the young man which led to his death and the police who are expected to give security to everyone would treat such a serious case with such callousness as if the victim was not a human being. It has become quite a frequent occurrence nowadays to hear stories of the arbitrary arrest and torture of people by our security forces, which in many cases led to deaths or permanent disability and yet nothing seems to be done about it. This blatant impunity certainly does not auger well for the peace and security of this country and therefore, I only hope and pray that the authorities are taking note. It is a well-known fact that all the countries in the sub-region that underwent through destructive civil wars started with this sort of impunity when the security forces and those in authority used to subject the ordinary citizens to all kinds of injustice until they could take it no more. It is therefore time that the Gambian authorities woke up from their lackadaisical attitude and assume their responsibility of protecting ordinary Gambians from such criminal elements disguising as security agents.
Author: D. A. Jawo Kanifing Estate