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GAMBIA: THE FAILURE OF OUR CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

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Gambia continues to have a poor record of criminal justice delivery. Since it worsened in the 22 years of dictatorship, with the coming of the new democratic dispensation, the country’s register performance didn’t improve much.

The Barrow administration hasn’t delivered the transitions justice dealing with the 22 years of worse human rights abuses and corruption promised to the people during the election campaign and after getting sworn into office in 2017.

The victims of the dictatorship and their families are still crying out for the delivery of

justice for them and their families, while the perpetrators of serious human rights crimes are roaming the streets free, some still serving the government, and the victims don’t get adequate compensation.

The commission of enquiries reports for the (Trrc) transitions justice delivery delayed and the (Janneh commission) the economic crime reports of JAMMEH and his close allies selectively implemented, the proceeds of the recovery of assets not correctly accounted for and some of worse perpetrators and enabler of the economic crime protecting by the state and continue to operate the same system of corruption benefiting the current President Barrow and his cronies, just as in the Jammeh era.

The much anticipated Security Sector Reforms (SSR), in which the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice reforms have been the most crucial component, have not delivered any tangible positive results since their halfhearted implementation.

The failure of Policing and Criminal Justice delivery is evident from continuously reported cases of failure in service delivery in all forms of major and minor crime due to incompetence and corruption, which include the politicisation of the institutions ensuring the officers maintain precisely the same mindset as at the time of the dictatorship.

Examples of this institutional failure are evident in the inability to tackle the unprecedented endemic corruption within the system, impacting all institutions which are fuelling substantial financial losses, the near collapse of state institutions, increase in organised crime with the Gambia becoming a Narco State in addition to its reputation as a favourite destination not just for sex tourism and its associated ills but a Paedophile Paradise that puts our children in danger in the hands of abusers.

Our failure to hold the government and the system to account to ensure that democratisation and Transitional Justice deliver the touted promises and combat corruption is leading the country to total collapse.

If we continue to ignore the plight of the victims of the dictatorship and fail to be vigilant in protecting Our Fundamental Freedoms and human rights against the attempt from the Barrow administration to curb these, we shall find ourselves back into a dictatorship, struggling to fight for freedom again.

We must remember dictatorship comes from the failure of accountability, leading to endemic corruption. When the people complain or organise themselves to challenge the status quo, the leaders unleash brutal forces, abusing power vested in our Judiciary and Law enforcement agencies to maintain control over the people.

Senegal is currently the best example of how unaccountability leads to corruption and dictatorship.

Article contributed by Sulayman Ben Suwareh

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