columnBy Ousman Njie
When members of the security forces are detained for more than 72 hours, Foroyaa does raise concern regarding their detention. Some people have remarked that they should be left to taste their own medicine. Foroyaa does not share such a view. Vindictiveness has never been a virtue that promotes justice on the face of the earth. It only breeds the spirit of revenge and replicates itself for eternity.
Foroyaa is convinced that to render justice to one who has denied it to him or her and others is a virtue. No one is truly just until one has the heart to deliver justice to even one's enemy. In our view there is a culture of democracy, human rights and tolerance. One does not naturally become just. One must go through a process of socialization for one's heart to beat in unison with the heart beat of those who are denied justice. One becomes uncomfortable and unhappy if others are not free. One becomes restrained by conscience even though one has the brute power to inflict incalculable damage to one's foe. The promotion of a democratic and human rights culture is indispensable to the building of a united, stable, tolerant, free and prosperous society.
It is therefore our concern that arrests of NDEA officials are continuing and are being detained for over 72 hours without appearing in court.
This is against Section 19 of the Constitution. There is no doubt that if the provisions of the Constitution are not respected when it comes to cases of members of the security forces their conscience would not be pricked when they deny such a right to an average citizen. On the other hand, if their rights are respected while under arrest they would be duty bound to reciprocate when others are arrested by them.
It is important for those in position of authority to be mindful of the advice they give to soldiers when they are going on a mission in Darfur and elsewhere. They are asked to be ambassadors of the country who should not perpetrate injustice against the civilian population under their charge. This advice would be difficult to keep unless one is groomed at home in respecting the rights of their own country men and women.
The Attorney General should therefore be assigned by the government to take stock of the lapses in the administration of human rights law as rooted in the 1997 Constitution, circulate a model bill for the establishment of a human rights commission for final debate, monitor compliance with the due process of law in the interim and conduct sensitization on the basic standards of human rights that ought to be observed by the executive and its agents as well as all other state organs and natural persons at large.
We will enjoy more stability, security and liberty if we build a democratic culture rooted in the respect for fundamental rights and freedoms.