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Concerns on presidential pardon of 37 persons on 19th January 2024

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Dear editor,

On Saturday 20th January 2024 Gambians across the world woke up to the news that the President had pardoned some 37 convicted prisoners on 19th January 2024.

19th January symbolises a very important day in The Gambia’s history, a day in which President Adama Barrow was inaugurated for the first time at a Gambian Embassy in Senegal.

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This day symbolised a day in which the will of the Gambian people was being enforced despite the previous government’s decision to thwart the election results of December 2016.

A day of hope, a day that encapsulated hope despite the efforts of the previous regime to extend its term.

This hope is now being completely decimated as many are gravely worried about the type of Gambia our children will be growing up in.

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A Gambia where paedophiles, rapists, murderers and the corrupt are being given a presidential pardon by the highest office in the land.

As National Assembly it’s our duty to exercise oversight over all the activities of the Executive including the President’s Prerogative of Mercy which is mandated according to section 82 of the Gambian Constitution.

1.         Have all the regulations been followed?

2.         Has a three-member committee been approved by the National Assembly?

3.         Is this the same three-member committee that presided over the selection criteria?

4.         What exactly was the selection criteria?

5.         What message are we sending across as a nation that claims to protect our children when the highest office of the land can release 4 paedophiles into the unsuspecting promise?

6.         Where is our commitment to the Never Again Mantra which speaks specifically about child abuse, sexual and gender-based violence?

7.         What country are we creating for our women when we release rapists into the society?

8.         How can we claim any commitment towards women’s empowerment when we turn around and give amnesty to convicted rapists?

9.         What does this say about our commitment towards protecting our women and children when we also release murderers, meanwhile, people convicted of drug abuse and other minor offences are still being allowed to rot in jail?

10.       What does it say about our resolve to fight corruption when after journalists have written investigations, courts have convicted the only public official for corruption and then the President pardons the only person they can claim to hold accountable for public malfeasance?

11.       Is this going to be the practice going forward for persons convicted of corruption by the Anti-Corruption Commission?

It’s one thing to say we are committed to Security Sector Reforms, achieving the Never Again Mantra, protecting our women and children and fighting corruption and a completely different thing to releasing rapists, murderers, paedophiles and corrupt individuals.

I urge the National Assembly to do the needful and to investigate the President’s use of the Prerogative of Mercy and if it has followed due process. This is our responsibility and we cannot mortgage that responsibility to anybody?

Due process must be followed and the President’s Office must be advised to follow its own policies which it continues to tout to citizens, donors and the international world.

We cannot wait until rape becomes the order of the day, our children are being violated on a regular basis, where corrupt persons are realised and get complete impunity to do whatever they want.

It’s time for us to act NOW!

Is this the Gambia we envisage for our women, children and people living in this country.

This is not a partisan issue; this is an issue that speaks to the heart of what makes us human?

We must all strive towards working to build a country every child, woman and man can grow up safe and protected to achieve their best potential.

This starts with jealously protecting our fundamental human rights.

It’s time for Parliament to rise up and demand for better for our people’s safety.

Hon. Modou Lamin B. Bah

National Assembly Member

Banjul North Constituency

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