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GAMBIA: COMMISSION OF ENQUIRY ON THE GAMBIA POLICE FORCE

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Madi Jobarteh, Human Rights Activist

Two young officers have lost their lives. They are from poor families and probably leaving behind young wives and children. They are most certainly the breadwinners of their families. A third young officer is in injury at the hospital, not knowing if she will regain her full health and strength to continue work and cater for her family.

This is what Gambians need to think about seriously. Why are these young officers victims? That must be interrogated. The police press conference has not provided anything meaningful and helpful. The DiG Modou Sowe was just rambling with conflicting and confusing statements. If they knew the phone number of this perpetrator and knew where he was why didn’t they prevent him from carrying out this heinous crime in the first place?

The statements by the NSA Abubacarr Jeng and Minister Seyaka Sonko are also off tangent. Their statements gave no indication as to the reasons for this cowardly attack. They didn’t speak to the state of police working environment as to how to prevent this kinds of incidents. If anything, this incident glaringly shows that our police officers are indeed vulnerable. That’s unacceptable.

The fact is the IGP, the DiG, the head of the NIA and the NSA as well as the Minister of Interior all have their security in place. They have a vehicle and an armed escort 24/7. At home and at the office and in their vehicle.

But it is these young officers who stand in the open, in the intersections, on the road in our towns and villages, along the highways, during the day and night, every day. Do they have the necessary security and safety measures in place to protect their lives? Do they have the safety and security equipment and tools necessary to detect incoming crime and criminals and therefore be in a position to protect themselves?

This is what as citizens we must raise. How come anyone could approach security officers on duty to harm them just like that? In public. In the middle of the day!!! Along the transGambia highway you willl find multiple checkpoints in the busy. What safety and protection measures and tools do they have? If they are attacked in the middle of the night, how will they protect themselves?

Therefore what this incident highlights is that there are serious system failures in the police leadership, management, and operations. There are serious administrative lapses and operational weaknesses which are what could be responsible for this tragedy. It means someone in the police is not performing his or her job efficiently and effectively to ensure that men and women on the ground are fully protected.

Therefore there’s need for the President to urgently institute an inquiry into the Gambia Police Force to investigate how this incident could happen? Who has failed in his or her duties to ensure that proper safety standards and protection procedures are in place.

We cannot simply focus on the shooter and end the story there. Yes, the shooter must be held responsible. But also the police is a professional institution that is expected to put in place all necessary procedures, measures and tools to protect its members. In any institution, there are safety precautions and protection protocols. Does the police have these? If so, how come this incident could still happen?

If we fail to interrogate this incident but only focus on the perpetrators then there’s a risk of recurrence. Every incident is an opportunity to learn lessons and improve. Therefore let us demand the President to constitute an independent and impartial inquiry into the killing of police officers in a public and busy place in broad daylight.

This inquiry should expose the quality of procedures, protocols, standards, capacity and tools that are available in the Gambia Police Force. It will provide us knowledge about system, administrative, and operational gaps and failures in the police and suggest corrective measures to prevent a recurrence.

I hereby call on Pres. Adama Barrow to open a commission of inquiry into the shooting of police officers on September 12, 2023. I call on the IGP Abdoulie Sanyang to demand an investigation in this incident in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of his institution in order to better protect his men and women.

I wish to call on all citizens to raise their voices to call for this inquiry. If we care about our men and women in uniform then let us demand the highest standards of safety and protection for them.

For the Gambia Our Homeland

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