The West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP) - The Gambia expresses concern over reports from the media and our National Early Warning System, of the violent incident between members of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) and the Faraba Banta community on Monday June 18, 2018 following protest by the community against mining activities in Faraba Banta Village in the Kombo East District of West Coast Region. The incident resulted in the shooting and death of Bakary Kujabi and Ismaila Bah and injury to dozen others.
WANEP - The Gambia condemns in the strongest terms the use of lethal force against civilian protesters and calls for State compensation and immediate medical aid to the injured and further expects the Government to conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances that led to the incident.
As a peacebuilding Network, WANEP - The Gambia is concerned by the implications of the Faraba incidence on the broader peace and security of the country especially against the backdrop of competing urgency for the Government to also address emerging land and environment related conflict in the country.
In addition, the conflicting statements by the Inspector General of Police and the junior officers of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) is very worrisome and increases negative sentiments and public distrust on the police ability to provide security and public safety. This is further compounded by allegations of human rights abuses and unlawful arrest by Pa Modou Bojang, Brikama Based Journalist against PIU officers, as guaranteed by the 1997 Constitution of the Gambia.
The Monday incident undermines the laudable government reform processes, particularly the ongoing transitional justice process being conducted by the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC). The implications of this action on the work of the TRRC secretariat is made more difficult and could mar public confidence on the entire process and outcome.
Consequently, we recommend that:
The Government takes action to provide support to injured persons to access urgent medical aid;
The Gambia Police and the Ministry of Interior should expedite investigations into violent confrontation and the use of fire arms on unarmed civilians to bring the culprits to book;
Police officers found guilty of killings and unlawful use of arms are held accountable and prosecuted in compliance with rule of law;
The Government should ensure the engagement and inclusion of local communities in natural resource management and address environmental issues to prevent and mitigate destructive conflicts and natural disasters;
The Government through the Ministry of Interior and development partners should conduct more training for the security forces, especially the PIU and para-military in civil-police/military relationships and human rights;
The Civil Society Organisations, particularly human rights focused groups should assist families of the victims and survivors with pro bono legal assistance to seek justice and reparation;
An immediate action is taken to set up a Land Commission to look into land issues in Gambia and advice government on appropriate measures to forestall further land related conflicts;
The Government of the Gambia expedites action in setting up the National Human Rights Commission to address human rights violations in Gambia.
Finally, we express our condolence to the families of Bakary Kujabi and Ismaila Bah. While we pray for a speedy recovery of the injured, we plead with all Gambians to remain law abiding as the Government responds to the immediate and remote causes of the unfortunate incident at Faraba.