5 December 2012

Gambia: The Temperature Is Rising Again Due to High Profile Arrests


The arrest and detention of Imam Baba Leigh and a Senior Member of the Bar and former Attorney General, Amie Bensouda has started to heat the temperature in the Country. After the executions, the temperature rose to an immeasurable degree causing the Government to engage in damage control by mobilizing elders from all parts of the Country.

This should have been sufficient to inform the authorities that Nations do not exist in isolation and detention without trial is unacceptable in today's criminal justice system.

Before High profile arrests are made one must be sure that sufficient investigation is done to have enough evidence to charge and take the suspect to court without detaining a person over night. Only allegations of committing heinous crime like murder should lead a state which wants international respect to detain a person overnight who would never abscond.

Those who manage the highest office in this land should know how it feels for young people to invade the privacy of an elder's home, give commands with authority for a person to stop having a dinner or putting on clothes, incite panic among children, drive loved ones to stop everything because of shock, being sandwiched by strangers and whisked away in the dark to a detention Centre without having access to lawyers or family members for days, stay overnight on the floor in dark cells with mosquitoes to keep one's company, wearing the same clothes for days without taking bath, being interrogated and treated like a small child in the hands of a parent -like or big brother-like interrogator and be given the carrot and stick treatment.

Once a national leader who should protect the citizenry with the state power entrusted to him or her knows his or her mission as a leader, one would never take pride in using that state power to humiliate another person on the face of the earth.

We therefore expect detentions overnight without trial for any allegation that is not a heinous crime to stop as long as one could secure police bail.

We also expect, the bar association to meet and discuss the arrest of Barrister Bensouda and negotiate her release with immediacy. If Lawyers cannot protect their own members, how will the public have trust in the profession? The state authorities should take note of the fact that the quickest way to kill the legal profession in a Country is to detain members of the legal profession with impunity. Members of the legal profession require a measure of immunity even if it is not stipulated in the law to enable them to protect the rights of others.

The Supreme Islamic Council went to visit state house to convey their concerns on the death penalty, it is now their turn to visit state house to prevent any maltreatment of Imam Baba Leigh and facilitate his release.

The Government of the Gambia has a choice to ignore what is being said on line and go ahead with the business of governing and ignore whatever happens or concentrate on all the threats and become paranoid and make life difficult for everyone who coughs. As the saying goes cowards die many times before their death but villains taste death once.

Speculations are rife as to why the high profile arrests were made. The authorities ought to come up with the charges immediately to do away with the speculations. The Ba Kawsu route is not the option in this case. The international outcry would be deafening if it takes that route.

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