I hereby call on the IGP to immediately release and drop all charges against citizen journalist Bakary Mankajang. The actions of Mankajang to interview witnesses does not interfere with or obstruct police investigations into the 12 September fatal shooting of PIU officers. Hence the police must not drag itself into actions that con only derail and undermine their work.
It is perfectly within journalistic work for journalists to interview victims and alleged perpetrators and their families, colleagues, neighbours, bystanders and acquaintances. This action does not in any way conflict with police investigations. Witnesses are not the property of the police such that no one should talk to them. And by talking to witnesses, journalists even help the police to gain better understanding of the factors and actors in an incident. Above all, not every witness is a subject of police investigation.
Therefore, the arrest and charges against Mankajang is unlawful, counterproductive and unprofessional. It is merely an intimidation of the journalist and the media as a whole, as well threatening witnesses themselves. It is an act of weaponising laws and institutions purposely to infringe on rights. The police has no authority to deny witnesses from talking to the media and anybody for that matter. Doing so is to suppress the freedoms of witnesses. There is no law that says a crime witness cannot talk to a journalist about what he or she saw or knows.
The IGP must be therefore advised to act with professionalism and conduct his functions in line with the law at all times. That is what will help the police to diligently solve issues and gain public trust and confidence. By arresting journalists, denying suspects their rights and threatening witnesses can only undermine not only public trust in the police but also undermine the integrity of their investigations hence undermine the course and objective of justice.
Bakary Mankajang has a right to conduct his work as a citizen journalist including interviewing crime witnesses without fetters. Free him and drop all charges!
What’ll it take to develop the Gambian economy and democracy
All that we need in The Gambia to develop, prosper and live under the rule of law is a president who understands the democratic politics application systems, sustainable national economic development policies, the management of public finances and international politics.
These are the qualities of awareness and understanding needed in the next president of The Gambia.
If you understand the nature of the political and economic development constraints in The Gambia and the policy options needed to be pursued in government to make the reforms and the restructuring, you can tell which politician is suitable and prepared for the job once they start talking and giving their reasons why they want to lead the country.
The next president of The Gambia must understand the principles and practices of democracy as a representative political processes and procedures governance system.
The president or cabinet ministers cannot say very stupid things and say that’s what the constitution says. How could the constitution mandate anti-democratic principles and practices, values and conventions?
And the next president of The Gambia must have a good understanding of international politics, manage public finance management and the national economy.
See, if you understand the lay of the land, when you stepped into the field, you could tell what is missing, added on or out of shape and form – and what to do and how to fix the problem if any. The knowledge and knowhow of what to do and how in government to govern The Gambian political economy seemed to be the problem of Gambian politicians.
The inability of our successive governments to govern the Gambian political economy diligently has degenerated politics in The Gambia into tribal politics.
And there’s no politician in The Gambia who seemed to understand how to lead the country into national development, economic prosperity and a functioning democracy under the rule of law.
The lack of political leadership and policy imagination for change and national development is the underlying cause of the tribal politics in The Gambia.
The so-called tribal politics in The Gambia is a scramble over political power and money- which is the product of lack of political leadership and policy imagination to develop the national economy, improve the living standards of the people and a reasonable political governance system in the country.
In a nutshell, to develop the Gambian economy and democracy, the country has to be led by a president who understands democracy, economics and international relations.
Tribal politics will never develop the Gambian democracy and economy.
An uneducated president- the kind of government in the country and its policies governing the political economy will never develop the Gambian economy and democracy.
And more depressingly, the main opposition leader in The Gambia clearly is not that familiar with democracy, economics and international politics.
The national development of The Gambia is dependent on the domestic and foreign policies of the government of the day.
The policies and laws that governs the political economy are products of the president.
Education, awareness, capacity and the competency of the president are what are necessary to develop the Gambian economy and democracy- not tribal politics and bogus intellectuals, stupid policies and laws.
Yusupha ‘Major’ Bojang