ICC member countries promoting US Impunity
US national security adviser, John Bolton’s tactless rant and threats against ICC judges is the latest in a series of soundbites and regressive policies portraying the Trump administration’s disdain for international law. Although Hon Mai Fatty in these columns, and other commentators in international media, have rallied to the defence of the ICC and its officials, readers should be aware that The Gambia is among 100 plus countries (in Africa, Latin America and Asia) that have signed Article 98 agreements with the US for the purpose of shielding American citizens from arrest or their surrender to the jurisdiction of the ICC. In the circumstances, Mr Bolton’s outrageous remarks were totally uncalled for, except maybe he wanted to remind the world of US exceptionalism, even it had to be done mafia-style. Maybe it is time the 100 plus co-signatory countries to Article 98 stand up for the voiceless and powerless victims of war crimes, irrespective of the accused identity.
Lethargy is crippling our government
The story is told of an Olympian who came last in a race; only completing almost an hour after the race had ended and no one was paying attention to her after. When she was asked why she did not stop when she saw that the race had ended, she replied ‘My country sent me here to finish the race, not only to start.’ This is tenacity and focus.
In The Gambia, we are very good at making beautiful plans and coming out with wonderful recommendations, but we are very bad at implementation. We start something with a lot of gusto but abandon it a little while later. When something great is suggested, everyone applauds it and says how beneficial it will be if implemented but no one will ask what modalities are put in place to ensure that it is done.
Take for instance the Think Tank that was instituted when the Barrow-led administration came into office a little less than two years ago. It was a colourful ceremony chaired by the then vice president Fatoumatta Tambajang. It was such a wonderful programme that poems were recited, there was music and dance and there was joy all around. A few months later, no one knows where that think tank is. The only thing we see now are the vehicles that were given to the ‘think tankers’.
Last week, I wrote an opinion piece entitled ‘Education: What can we learn from Ghana’ in which I suggested that like Ghana, we should have a National Education Services which will be autonomous to implement the policies prepared by the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education. Among the feedback I got was that there is already a Professional Standards Board had already been set up but has not been functional since inception. How will anything be effective if it is not implemented?
The lassitude we observe in almost all government departments is affecting the ability of the government to realise anything. If you take the Faraba Banta incident as an example, you will find out that it is because of that lethargy and unwillingness to act that led to the escalation of the issues resulting in the deaths of at least three Gambians. As the Minister of Justice said, the report has shown that there had been a lot of errors due to lack of action from institutions and individuals.
Another grave example is the vehicle policy that was suggested by the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs. We all applauded that initiative as it is glaringly clear that we lose millions of dalasis every year due to the huge number of government vehicles. We spend a lot of money maintaining these vehicles; fuel, repairs, driver and so on. The policy suggested that vehicles be reduced to only the minister and the permanent secretary and the rest could be given vehicles only as loans to be deducted from their salaries. This would have saved us hundreds of millions of dalasis; but no, we want to waste resources and then claim that we inherited a weak economy. How long will we continue to blame the next – or the previous, in this case person?
The time has come for government to effect change in the way we do things and ensure that whatever we plan or agree upon will be implemented.
Tha Scribbler Bah