Yankuba Badjie, Director General, NIA

(JollofNews) – Gambia’s feared National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has been renamed the State Intelligence Services (SIS) and stripped of all its powers to arrest, detain and torture suspects.

It comes as new President Adama Barrow pledged reforms of the state institution which was widely feared and hated by Gambians due to its fearsome reputation under erstwhile ruler Yahya Jammeh as an agent of torture and death.

The new government issued a statement read on state television on Tuesday evening, confirming that the new SIS is now devoid of its former mandate to conduct actions that are deemed violations of the law.

According to the government statement the SIS have now been mandated to tackle issues of state intelligence but will not be effecting arrests and detentions and will respect human rights including that of journalists, activists, politicians and ordinary Gambians.

Under Jammeh the then NIA was one of the most feared institutions in The Gambia and was synonymous with state-sanctioned arbitrary arrests, torture, deaths and disappearances especially of political opponents and journalists.

Jammeh who was defeated in polls last month and forced into exile after refusing to concede has been widely accused of using NIA operatives to crack down on opponents during his 22-year rule.

His successor Barrow has promised to investigate the exact scale of the alleged atrocities committed by the NIA and other state security institutions.

Despite widespread relief following political change, many Gambians are still demanding answers to questions about political detainees still unaccounted, a distressing situation blamed on the NIA.