As we mourn Kairaba Jawara we must not ignore the fact that we also have scores of young people sent to prison by the law enforcement and justice delivery system yesterday. Accused of arson and unlawful assembly the court denied 36 people bail and remanded them at Mile 2.
These people were arrested on Saturday August 17 and detained over the weekend only to be released on bail on Monday August 19. Since then they have been reporting on bail daily with no one fleeing.
Why therefore put them before the court on Monday August 27 and then refuse them bail only to send them to jail? What is the value of taking them to prison when there is no evidence that they would flee.
Just because the police and the courts have the authority to deny bail this does not mean such power should be exercised all the time and anyhow! After all bail is also a fundamental right of suspects. These suspects do not pose any threat to society at this moment. Why deny them bail therefore?
More concerning is the fact that Killa Ace who is among them was not present at either the house of Gorgui Mboob or Bakoteh Police Station which was destroyed. So why charge him for arson?
Secondly why charge only 36 people for unlawful assembly when thousands of people took part in the Serre Kunda protest? What about the rest of the protesters? Is this not selective justice? Clearly these 36 people did not plan or lead that protest because that protest was spontaneous! No one organized it!
On the other hand if you could charge these 36 people out of thousands for unlawful assembly in Serre Kunda why didn’t the police also charge protesters in Brikama for unlawful assembly? Was the incident in Brikama on the same day not also a protest? In fact why should anyone be ever again be charged with ‘unlawful assembly’ in a democratic society?
From the foregoing it is clear that both the police and courts are once again engaged in the violation of the rights of Gambians as they used to do under the Dictatorship. This is not what is expected today.
As Gambians let us stand up to check the State lest we encourage another round of violations against us. Yes, anyone who breaks the law must face justice. But we require our law enforcement and justice delivery systems to be just, efficient and professional and act according to the rule of law!
While the police have arrested these 36 people and then put them before the court only to send them to jail yet we are yet to see any investigation into the death of Ousman Darboe after his arrest by the Anti-Crime Unit. All witnesses including his wife claimed that Ousman was tortured. Why is that not enough to investigate which was what the Ministry of Interior itself promised? After all it was the death of Ousman Darboe that triggered that spontaneous protest that turned into a riot!
Who is responsible for the death of Ousman? Why is there no investigation? Where is the investigation report if there was one? Why is the Ministry of Interior and The Gambia Police Force ignoring this case yet would arrest and imprison other citizens?
I hereby condemn the decisions and actions of the law enforcement and justice delivery institutions in this case. I demand transparency and accountability from them and adherence to the rule of law.
For The Gambia Our Homeland.