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‘It is unwise to disband Anti-Crime Unit’

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A US- Gambian diaspora and specialist on law enforcement and security crisis, has strongly disagree with Gambia Bar Association President Salieu Taal’s calls for the police Anti-Crime Unit (ACU) to be disbanded.  Mr Taal made the suggestion in a note he published on his Facebook page relating personal experience with the ACU’s conduct with a group of arrested young school girls.

 Commenting on the suggestion Modou Lamin Faye said it would be ‘disingenuous’ to disband the ACU.

“People in the Gambia, especially in high offices need to learn to give the government or police the respect and opportunity to do their job or go through proper channels first before running around like mad dogs,” he noted.

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Faye added that disbanding or replacing the ACU won’t solve the problem, arguing that Nigerians tried doing that on several occasions and it never worked.

“The best and fastest solution to this problem is to start holding officers who abuse their power or violate people’s constitutional rights accountable for their actions to the fullest in accordance with the law. The law should protect both civilians and security personnel from each other. Based on my professional opinion, I believe there’s room for change as far as our officers’ treatment of civilians by retraining our officers on the proper ways of handling each unique situation,” he said.

“Being a lawyer or having a law degree doesn’t mean that the person gets to go around making suggestions about something that they have no knowledge of especially when it comes to security or law enforcement issues. Lawyers are part of a criminal justice system of which they specialise in interpreting the law or helping the public understand different legal issues, defending, and prosecuting people in court. Law enforcement officers, however, play a major role in the criminal justice system by putting their lives in danger to ensure the safety of all,” he said.

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Faye said Lawyer Taal’s statement can be a threat to national security because it could trigger a violent demonstration just like what happened in Nigeria when mass social movement emerged to disband their Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) which in the long run could bring a country down to its knees by threatening their national security.

“We do not need that kind of mess in the Gambia. I need all senior government officials, politicians, and people who have influence on the public to understand that police actions are not the only things that can create unwarranted controversies. Mr Taal should have tried to get some form of tangible and physical evidence of the incident as a lawyer. Based on the article that I read from The Standard Newspaper, Mr Taal was unprofessional in the way he handled the situation and nothing in the article states that physical or digital evidence was obtained except that he was on the phone with the chair of the National Human Rights (NHRC). How would Mr Taal have felt if the ACU officers went to the courthouse and interfered with his cases without knowing all the details of those cases?” he concluded.

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