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GAMBIA: IGP VOWS TO PROSECUTE INSULTS AND HATE SPEECH TO LEADERS

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For the first time since taking office on March 15, 2024, Inspector General Seedy Muctar Touray of the Gambia Police Force has directly addressed the media, announcing his intention to bring charges against anyone who denigrate elders and authoritative figures.

At a news conference held at his office on June 14, 2024, IGP Touray discussed a range of issues, including hate speech and drug-related crimes. He underlined the significance of maintaining respect for Gambian society’s elders and leaders. Drawing on his background, he emphasised the cultural importance of discipline, emphasising that breaking from these standards puts one at risk of social rejection.

“When I was younger and growing up in the village, an old person might chastise a child who was observed by that person’s parent doing something wrong. Some parents would even beat you if you cry, return home, and tell your parents that “some so person beaten me.” When they ask you what you did, you tell them, and they get upset. However, we are straying far from that, and if we keep policing this nation in that way, I don’t think people will be sympathetic to us.

In this nation, we have to put an end to things like tribal hatred, harsh speech, and demeaning our elders and leaders. There won’t be any selective justice—rule for one, rule for all—which is why I’m saying this. As soon as this news conference is over, you are free to take to the radio and begin disparaging the nation’s elders if you have the audacity to dispute the Inspector General of Police’s comments. IGP Touray declared, “We will not back down; we will carry out our duties as law enforcement representatives of our nation.

The IGP underlined that in order to restore appropriate decorum, such behaviour is unusual and needs to be handled. He made it clear that democracy and unbridled freedom are not the same thing.

Touray emphasised that everyone has a responsibility to behave responsibly in society and that personal obligations accompany democratic rights. He emphasised the universal lessons that stress respect for elders from an early age, regardless of one’s faith—Christian, Muslim, or others.

I want to talk about hate speech, drug misuse, peddling, land disputes, worker welfare, and discipline before I wrap up my brief. For any civilization to flourish, discipline is a need. The security services even more so. The men and women in uniform are members of society’s armed forces. Thirty years ago, I was a civilian, and I never would have imagined donning a uniform. I had other industries in mind. However, this was meant to happen. God Almighty said that I would wear a uniform for a specific amount of time in my life.

“When I retire in the coming years, I will never again wear a uniform. In other words, I was a civilian yesterday, and I will return to that status tomorrow. As a result, we are identical. Given this fact, it is critical that we teach our kids self-control and promote decency in public conversations. Due to the name-calling, hate speech, and overt personal insults aimed at those who have differing opinions, the discourse in our public sphere has become bellicose and disagreeable, the speaker stated.

IGP Touray voiced serious concerns about the many land issues that exist around the country. Investigations, he revealed, have shown that formal ownership records are sometimes supplied to several parties. He made it clear that any public servant discovered to have engaged in such behaviour would face severe consequences from his government.

“Land-related issues, particularly those originating from the Kombonkas. Eighty to eighty-five percent of land conflicts in this country occur in the Kombos. By the way, I am a native member of the Kombo tribe. To be clear, though, we come from a lineage of traditional rulers; my father was an alkali, as was his father, and today I have an alkali in my own community, my brother.

Let me make one thing very plain, though: we will not be kind to any traditional rulers who grant land to a large number of innocent individuals who all have valid documentation and for whom lawsuit is the only available course of action. On the other hand, the appropriate authority, which issues land documents, consists of three, four, and occasionally five individuals, each of whom has legitimate documentation from a single office. Do you not knock innocent people’s heads together? This has to end. IGP Touray informed the media, “And once again, we will not be lenient with anybody who is found wanting or perpetrating this act.”

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