Gambia is a land of laws! While we may not agree with every law in our books, they must be adhered to and this includes, among other things, respect for those enforcing these laws. There are due processes to follow when challenging controversial laws or their applications.
As a Gambian, I am deeply troubled by the media reports of disturbance in some section of Bakau where Drug Enforcement Officers were allegedly obstructed from carrying out their duties during a routine raid on suspected cannabis smoking/trafficking hideout.
Resisting arrest is unlawful no matter how it is effected with unintended consequences.
Our Law Enforcement Agencies have the authority to conduct search operations anywhere, anytime across the country within the ambit of law and anyone interfering with such process must face the full weight of the law. There must be no sanctuary places for illegal activities or “no go areas” for law enforcement officers anywhere in our country.
When and where officers act outside of the law, they must answer for their behaviors in accordance with established procedures of the jurisdiction overseeing their conducts. Our law enforcement officers must not be seen as law breakers. Period!
It is also true that the current punitive legislation on Marijuana is ridiculously tough and abysmally ineffective in mitigating possession and/or trafficking.
It places value on incarceration and little or nothing for rehabilitation, resulting in disproportionate lockup of a good number of youths in our society. This is sad.
I am not calling for legalization of Marijuana and I will oppose any such legislation. Its harmful effects especially on our productive young people far outweigh anything good associated with it
. However, the current laws regarding Marijuana matters should be repealed and replaced with common sense legislations in which crime is proportional to punishment; that rehabilitation programs for offenders in the form of education, skills acquisition and leadership training are given priority; that our young people cannot be sent to ten year jail terms with hard labor for possession of insignificant quantities;
that charges of trafficking cannot solely stem from possession of large quantities and that the physical, psychiatric and emotional wellbeing of those addicted to or affected by Marijuana smoking/possession/trafficking are adequately taken care of.
There should be robust capacity building programs for Drug Enforcement Officers to enhance their operations and expanding their abilities to build and sustain trust and partnership with communities they serve/protect.
Good intel is very critical to successful operation and establishing trust with community members will ensure steady flow of actionable intelligence without endangering both the operatives and suspects.
So, until legislative amendments are pushed through, the current Drug Enforcement Act remains in effect and compliance with all the provisions of this law is binding on every Gambian citizen and resident.
Let Justice Guide Our Actions Towards The Common Good.
Zakaria Kemo Konteh