By Lamin Cham
The Minister of Justice Baa Tambadou has written a reaction to wide spread criticisms on the controversial pardoning of a Norwegian accused of pedophilia. Svein Åge Sandåker was among 7 prisoners pardoned by President Barrow as announced by MoJ.
But a swift condemnation of his release by child rights activists led the MOJ to later announce on Twitter that he was handed over to the Norwegian authorities.
Other commentators alleged that the Norwegian’s release was recommended because his legal team is close to the minister.
But writing on his Facebook page from Mecca where he has performed the Hajj, Minister Tambadou clarified that he was neither a member of the panel that recommended the latest pardoning nor has he any connection with the prisoner.
Below is the full statement from Minister Tambadou:
“I am learning with utter dismay reports circulating on social media that I recommended to the President for the exercise of his prerogative of mercy on one Norwegian citizen convicted of child abuse in The Gambia.
I want to make clear that I was not aware of this matter neither did I make any such recommendation to the President. In fact, I am currently out of the country on the hajj in Saudi Arabia. This matter was not brought to my attention for advice and I have consistently taken a hard line position on homicide and sexual offences convicts as reflected in all previous pardons in which I have participated as a member of the Prerogative of Mercy Committee which also includes the Honourable Minister of Interior, the Inspector General of Police and a religious leader.
I therefore reiterate that I was not involved in any decision to recommend for pardon the said Norwegian citizen contrary to reports that I made the recommendation. Upon my return from the hajj, I will get to the bottom of this matter and find out how the MOJ came to be associated with the purported conflicting statements released on our twitter page.
Meanwhile, it is also disheartening to note that some people see this incident as an opportunity to attempt to further tarnish my reputation by associating this incident with a previous one involving my brother last year. I want to state that I am not my brother and I am not responsible for my brother’s actions as a private legal practitioner. I would like to be judged on my actions alone regarding my professional conduct and not constantly get associated with the actions of my brother who is a private legal practitioner.
I will not allow anyone with any kind of agenda whatsoever to distract me from my objective of establishing strong foundations for democratic practice, respect for human rights and upholding the rule of law in our country. The challenge is hard enough without the pettiness and personal attacks from some quarters albeit limited.”