By Omar Bah
Concerned Gambians living abroad have urged the government to address the root causes of insecurity in the country.
Recently, in an attempt to address the surge insecurity, the police high command activated joint security high visibility patrols targeting criminal hideouts within the Greater Banjul and West Coast regions.
However, in an exclusive interview with The Standard on Tuesday, Yahya Jammeh, a Seattle Washington correctional officer and businessman, said the country cannot address security issues without addressing the root causes. “The government should address the issues of youth unemployment and industrial issues in the country,” Jammeh said.
He said the security situation “is extremely disquieting to all Gambians, irrespective of where one lives”.
He said the government should also arrest and imprison criminals found wanting.
“This could serve as short term measure to help the country regain its stability that it is known for, as jailing condemned criminals for a number of years and providing rehabilitation for them through education and skills training will reduce the high number of people involved in crimes,” he said.
He added: “Convicts will learn a lot before the end of their sentencing and in this aspect, they can be integrated back in the society as good ambassadors of change but without that their numbers might increase or will commit the same or similar crime if they are out of jail. Investment into this program for prisoners is one of the best and course effective.”
Pa Samba Jaw, an activist and social commentator, said: “As people in the Diaspora, we still have our families and properties in the country and of course worried by what we read or see happening in our dear country. Many in the Diaspora, just like people on the ground, are severely affected by what happens.
“My niece, Maram Jow was murdered recently in the country and we are still grappling with both losing her and the gruesome manner in which she was killed. We cannot also talk about the security situation without looking at some of the socio-economic factors,” he said.
The Gambia, he added, is “a very youthful country with little or no economic prospects, thus leading many into very dangerous adventures such as taking the Backway and for others, crime”.
“The pervasiveness of hard drugs and drug use among our young people, coupled with an extremely ill-equipped police force, not to mention the culture of impunity in our country, paints a very calamitous picture. We have seen people arrested by the police with large quantities of drugs and weapons, and a large quantity of cocaine seized without a single prosecution,” he said.
Jaw said the president’s suggestion that abuse of the democratic environment is to blame for the upsurge in crime is misleading.
“This I believe is both misleading and dangerous, and in fact it plays into the false narrative that Gambia under Jammeh was more peaceful. I am of the fervent view that the failure to enforce the laws of the country, due mainly to lack of an effective and properly equipped police force is one of the leading problems in crime prevention,” he said.
He said the failure of the government to “effectively reform our security forces continue to undermine the security of the country”. “Lest we forget, The Gambia was far from secure, it may have been secure for Jammeh but not for the average Gambians, especially the many who have been murdered or disappeared by agents of the State on the orders of the President. It is therefore essential for all Gambians, from the president to the last person, to realize that our country cannot afford lawlessness, therefore, it is imperative on all of us to be extremely vigilante in guarding the stability and security of our country,” he added.