It’s 4 days since the IGP issued a press release on the Poliso Magazine Facebook page. In one sense it gave a reassuring message that the police will act according to law. But in another sense it raises more questions as to why the ‘vigorous patrols’ in Sanyang if the police already had said that the situation was under control.
But since then dozens of youths are being arrested yet Poliso Magazine has not provided an update! The initial report said there would be investigations. But now arrests are taking place when the public is not told if the investigations indeed took place and what was found!
The police cannot stay mute over its actions in Sanyang. It must not use the riotous incident to unjustly and illegally arrest and detain.
There are already unconfirmed witness accounts that some of the arrested youths are being tortured. There are reports that others are arrested at night. These are unacceptable actions if found to be true.
Arrests and prosecutions will not address the core of the problem in Sanyang. Since the Faraba incident 2 years ago, the Commission of Inquiry Report predicted this kind of incidents erupting in coastal towns if necessary action is not taken to address issues of land and natural resources. The Government only failed to implement that report.
For so long, the youths of the coastal towns have been raising serious concern about the destruction of their environment by the Chinese fishmeal companies. Yet The Gambia Government only ignored those concerns.
Riot, according to Martin Luther King is the language of the unheard. So let the Government listen to these youths and their communities to address their concerns than to ignore only to use force and law when hell breaks lose.
Gambians must not accept ever again the arbitrary and illegal use of force by the security institutions on our citizens.
Yes, it is utterly unacceptable for citizens to burn down a police station or engage in violence in expressing their grievances. But the solution to that is not to further ignore the original concerns and only focus on the consequences of that negligence that comes in the form of riots!
Therefore can the IGP issue an update to citizens as to what is reason for the spate of arrests in Sanyang! Police services in a democracy are expected to be transparent and accountable to the public.
The National Human Rights National Human Rights Commission, The Gambia must monitor the situation to equally update citizens and ensure that they police act within the law and not violate rights.
TANGO and The Gambia Bar Association must also be seized with this issue in the internet of justice and human rights.
For The Gambia Our Homeland
By: Madi Jobarteh