This is a piece of news I monitored on the BBC: Environmental campaigners have warned that exports of fish meal and fish oil from West Africa are depriving more than 30 million people a year of food.
A report by Greenpeace Africa and the Netherlands-based organisation Changing Markets urges governments to phase out processing of fish which is fit for human consumption being used for fishmeal and oil.
This is especially true of The Gambia, where exploitation of catch landings for the domestic consumer markets are diverted to a network of Chinese fishmeal factories dotted along the coastline – exploitation on a grand scale!
Greenpeace Africa has said the fish extracted by industrial vessels off West Africa are processed and exported, mainly to Europe and Asia, as feed for fish farms, pet food or use in cosmetics.
How does heartless foreign owners justify the practice devoid of any human feelings or their security. Across the region, food insecurity is the population’s common lot from the depths of Timbuktu in Mali, to the heartlands of Benenden, off Gunjur coast.
Will The Gambia government respond to concerns, set quota limits on daily, monthly catch limits with regard to export, ahem exploitation controls?
The report further says the industry is devastating coastal communities and undermining food security in Mauritania, Senegal, the Gambia, Mali and Burkina Faso, among others.
Action through inaction
President Barrow seems to have adopted the principle of ‘action thru inaction’ described by China’s great sage Lao Tzu. Now that the TRRC has concluded, some of us await a word or two from President Barrow on this undertaking. Appropriate words like ‘thanks for fulfilling your mandate’, ‘and finishing on time’ or even ‘I look forward to your recommendations’ would be rather neutral, non-committal phrases that would not disturb, too much, anyway, the block of voters whose support he seeks.
I suppose expecting something different from the president is but a dream, given the political realities here. After all, he said not much, if anything, about the Janneh Commission – the government white paper spoke for him. His office avoided asking the National Assembly to take a vote on bringing charges against the former president as the commission suggested and the white paper ‘accepted’. The CRC did get a ‘thank you’, I think, from him at a handing-over ceremony, but ‘no thank you’ from him via the National Assembly. He couldn’t even muster uttering a public comment about the rejection of the document. And the simplest, though important gesture, like showing the Gambian public how to avoid the ‘Rona plague by hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing, didn’t happen.
Now it looks like President Barrow is being given a gift from outgoing ICC Prosecutor Bensouda. She reportedly said the facts revealed at the TRRC met ICC’s criteria for charging Jammeh with crimes against humanity. And if the government of The Gambia does not bring a case before them, the ICC has other options to consider, she says. So, the president, now conveniently ‘off the hook’, can continue to say nothing about the TRRC findings, nor express sympathy for the victims, drag his feet and wait for the ICC to manage this affair and hopefully avoid the political risk of having his regime bringing Jammeh to justice. That is called kicking the can down the road.
There is some hope, though that the president will do the right thing. Some local newspapers ran an advertisement placed by the UNDP asking for a consultant to inform Ministry of Justice prosecutors about principles of international criminal law, case selection, management and best practices. This suggests the justice ministry is preparing for some prosecutions. Over and out.