By Omar Bah
Gomsa Bopa, a civil society organization yesterday held a press conference denouncing the arrest and detention of 37 youth at the Mile II prisons.
The 37 are charged in connection with the July protest in Serekunda over the death of a Sierra Leonean, Ousman Darboe.
Their charges are in connection to the burning of the compound of the head of the police Anti-Crime Unit, Gorgi Mboob and ransacking of the Bakoteh police station.
Addressing the press conference, Madi Jobateh a human rights activist said the state is yet to present any credible information in public space about the investigation they claimed to be doing and instead went ahead to arrest the young people.
“I want us all to realise that what has happened in this case is a typical malpractice we saw happening all the time under the former dictatorship.
The system continues until today unabated and this is unacceptable.
Therefore, I wish to call on all Gambians to demand that the State, especially our law enforcement and justice delivery systems respect and abide by the rule of law to protect human rights and safeguard the peace and stability of this country,” said Jobarteh.
He continued: “We must not allow the police to destroy the lives and future of our youth by imposing trumped up charges against them.
I do not support and will never encourage arson, looting, vandalism and riot in any way and for any reason.
However, I will not also stand by to watch the lives of young citizens being damaged by the State just like that.
We expect the Gambia Government to respect and protect our lives, property and liberty.”
The arrested 37 youth charged with arson among other charges return to Kanifing Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, September 3 where prosecutors are expected to seek to transfer the case to the High Court.
The members of Team Gomsa Bopa, a group Killa Ace serves as President said he is being unfairly targeted because of his activism against “police brutality”.
Killa Ace’s lawyer, Patrick Gomes argued that the charges filed against the 37 youth should be struck out because there was an abuse of process by the police.
He argued that the police knew very well that the Kanifing Magistrate’s Court does not have the jurisdiction.
“This is why we argued that the charges were brought in bad faith with the intention of punishing them.”
Meanwhile, the group has also petitioned prominent government institutions and ministries demanding the youth be granted bail.
The petition is addressed to the National Assembly Committee on Security and Defense, the Gambia Human Rights Commission, Office of the President, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, Inspector General of Police and the Gambia Interparty Committee.