‘Genuine security sector reform is best way to preserve Sandeng’s legacy’

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By Tabora Bojang

Political science lecturer and security researcher has said the government must expedite legal and security sector reforms to honour the legacy of martyrs like Solo Sandeng who sacrificed their lives to dethrone self-rule and ushered democracy in the Gambia.

In a write-up shared with The Standard, Essa Njie disputed assertions by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Dawda Jallow that Solo’s legacy is the inspiration for the reform of the security sector in the Gambia.

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Njie argued: “It is unfortunate that the Public Order Act that was weaponised against Solo, leading to his untimely death, is still in place. The same Public Order Act that was used against the UDP leadership and many other Gambians, preventing them from exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly with the Justice Ministry being a stakeholder in the maintenance of this draconian law”.  

Mr Njie added that it is important to remind the minister that police brutality that led to Solo’s death is still used against Gambians. ”The high sense of unprofessionalism in our men and women in uniform goes to tell us that we are yet to take a significant departure from the Yahya Jammeh days of police brutality.

The security sector reform is yet to register significant progress as it should require not only policy documents, but legal as well, for the legal implementation of the reform program. But as we speak, we only have Policy documents such as National Security Policy, National Security Strategy and Security Sector Reform Strategy,” Njie said.

He also argued that if the legacy of Solo and all the other martyrs is to be honoured the government must be seen to move from the white paper which is a mere commitment to action and ensure the security sector reform is a reality.

“It is in this spirit that only a responsible leadership will deliver to Gambians the needed reforms; a leadership that will be committed to ending self-perpetuating rule and not promoting it; and a leadership that will be committed to consolidating our democratic gains as a people and as a country,” Essa Njie concluded.