Letters to the Editor

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Of the controversy over the TRRC eyewitness testimonies

Dear editor,

The popular CSI: Miami TV mini-series drama never failed in offering vivid details of incredible evidence obtained through forensic analysis of physical elements (e.g. DNA) inadvertently left at crime scenes by perpetrators which eventually leads to their apprehension.
In the TRRC real life scenario however, we see the human element or psychological knowledge being used entirely to obtain evidence from eyewitnesses of the 22 July 1994 military takeover and the brutal manner in which the alleged putschists of 11th November 1994 were exterminated.

The drift of this précis is to ponder, after 25 years, how trustworthy is an eyewitness’ memory of a perpetrator’s or a bystander’s face or presence at a crime scene? Proponents of the theory of memory have explicated that the human mind “does not work like a videotape or computer, but is instead ‘constructed’, meaning that memories can change over time, particularly when we are questioned about them”.
The contradictory TRRC eyewitness testimonies lend themselves to the above cited memory theory, especially in terms of what can affect the reliability of the testimony. Research findings correlate the reliability of testimony with the nature of the crime, e.g. witnessing someone stealing a packet of oxford biscuits from a shop is a different experience all together from witnessing someone fatally assaulting another person; and being a victim of a pickpocket is very different from being a torture victim.
At the end of it all, the TRRC has an uphill task of establishing the truth and living up to its eponymous character.

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Joseph P Jassey, Capt. (rtd)
Executive Consultant
West Atlantic Security Risk Assessment and Management
Tel: 9996178

 

 

 

The abnormalities and the best laid plans!

Dear editor,

As can be seen from the above title, there are many contradictions and inconsistencies in our societies. One sees abnormalities every time one sets foot outside one’s house. One meets children of school going age being used to sell water, groundnuts or some other things.
One sees women walking for long distances to fetch water. In some extreme situations one may even see them walking for kilometres just to have access to water.
One sees people dying of treatable diseases just because they lack the ability to get treatment either because they cannot afford it or the absence of expertise. One sees hospitals which can only prescribe medications which have to be bought at the nearest pharmacy.

One sees young people who have ‘completed schooling’ but can’t find jobs and thus they end up going back way or enter the life of crime.
One sees young intelligent girls being pulled out of school and being forced into marriages which end up in divorces within the first five years. One sees women being used and abused by either their husbands or family members for no good reason.
One sees people enter government services and get rich in a relatively short time. One sees people who work extremely hard for four or five decades only to retire to nothing.
One sees roads filled with potholes and totally dilapidated and rendered not motorable causing many accidents leading to loss of lives. One sees people’s gadgets being rendered useless due to either lack of constant supply of electricity or the erratic manner in which it comes and goes where it is available.

In short, the provision of goods and services is at an all-time low. Yet one sees politicians – who are supposed to be in the sun for citizens to be in the shades – living luxurious lives of comfort and joy while the masses continue to wallow in poverty and want; yet, they will be kowtowing behind these same politicians.
With all these problems and challenges, one wonders what happened to the ‘Best Laid Plans’ always presented to us by politicians. From the first republic under the leadership of Sir Dawda Jawara, to the second republic under the leadership of Yahya Jammeh, to the government of president Adama Barrow, we have always heard of the excellent and impeccable plans laid down by our governments. Yet nothing seems to change for the ordinary person.
We hear of budgets of millions and billions and grants and loans of millions and billions but our woeful situation seems endemic. For instance, where I come from in Niumi there is a road between Barre and Amdalai (the border between The Gambia and Senegal) which was there when I was born. It’s the same road which has a lot of potholes now and has not been maintained properly.

The ferry is still in the same condition. People still struggle to cross over to Niumi or Banjul as the case maybe. What exactly is our problem and when will we emerge from this sorry state of affairs?
As far as I am concerned, the issue is – has always been – that our education system is bad. The education system hasn’t identified our prioeities because we have not made it a priority. Education is the priority of all priorities – or so it should be. As long as we don’t fix our education system, we will continue to live in this contradiction.
We have a huge numver of highly educated Gambians consulting all over the world and doing very well for other countries but we have not identified and used them to our adavantage. Let us consult these Gambians and come up with an education system which is relevant and inline with our needs and aspiratiins.
Until then, enjoy the abnormalities amidst the ‘Best Laid Plans!’

Musa Bah

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