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Letters to the Editor

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Who ordered the arrest of Kasim Fadera of Jarra Soma?
Dear editor,

Kasim Fadera is a resident of Jarra Soma in LRR. He is a member in a UDP WhatsApp audio forum in his area. Sometime early this month, November he contributed to a discussion in the forum in which he exposed the double standards of the chiefs of the region who claim loyalty to Pres. Barrow. In his speech Kasim advised Pres. Barrow to be wary of these chiefs describing them as major enablers of former dictator Yahya Jammeh hence their purported support for Barrow is untrue. He narrated how these chiefs had aided and abetted dictatorship in the country during which they also meted out untold abuse and suffering on individuals perceived to be UDP members or anti-Yahya Jammeh elements at the time in LRR.
What Kasim Fadera said in the audio is his opinion which is perfectly within the limits of the Constitution. Chiefs are public figures holding public office and therefore every citizen has a right to express his agreement or disagreement with them, pleasantly or unpleasantly.

But on 4th November three police officers from Soma Police Station visited Kasim in his home and arrested him for the audio he made about chiefs. Following his arrest Kasim was then detained in the station for a night only to be later transferred to Janjanbureh prisons where he spent two more nights. On November 12th, Kasim was arraigned before the magistrate’s court in Mansa Konko and charged with sedition.
The question is, ‘who ordered the arrest of Kasim in the first place?’ What is the reason for the arrest? Kasim has not broken any law to warrant his arrest, detention and trial. He has all the rights to express himself as a citizen about public officers and public offices as well as on national issues. He has not used any hate speech neither has he incited any violence.

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Therefore, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Interior must pursue this matter to ensure that law enforcement officers do not abuse their power and damage the rights of citizens. The Minister of Interior and the IGP must take responsibility for this blatant abuse of power. The magistrate sitting on this case must throw this matter to where it rightfully belongs: Thrash Bin!
The arrest and detention of Kasim is arbitrary, unlawful and unconstitutional. To add insult to injury is when the court charged him for sedition knowing that the Supreme Court had ruled in November 2017 that sedition, if not against the president, is unconstitutional. Therefore, how can the Mansa Konko Magistrates Court charge a citizen with sedition when that citizen did not criticize the president in any way? This illegal trial tantamount to persecution because Kasim has not broken any law. Rather Kasim is a prisoner of conscience who is only being harassed for his opinions.

Kasim has spent his entire life fighting dictatorship in the Gambia at great risk to his life, family and business. He was subjected to series of arbitrary arrests, detention and torture during the period. At that time these Jarra chiefs and police officers were aiding and abetting dictatorship. On several occasions Kasim’s businesses were destroyed. He was denied access to lawful opportunities just because he supported the opposition. Kasim went further to even engage the media anytime there is abuse in LRR to ensure that the world gets to know the abuses of dictatorship. He had even lodged a Foroyaa reporter in his compound just to ensure that acts of oppression in his region were reported to the world.

It is therefore no exaggeration to say that Kasim is one of the leading heroes and heroines of this country who gave birth to this new Gambia. Therefore, to now subject that same Kasim Fadera to such abuse and inhumanity from this new Gambia Government is the height of betrayal and criminality. Kasim is a hero to be celebrated and not to be abused and harmed.
It is utterly disheartening that two years after the December 1 presidential elections that ended tyranny in the Gambia that the new Gambia Government would still engage in tyrannical practices. This arrest is utterly unacceptable and a direct threat to national security. We cannot allow the Government to again transform the Gambian Police Force into a weapon to unleash violence and harassment against citizens who only exercise their constitutional rights.

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It is clear that the way and manner in which Kasim was arrested, detained and slammed with frivolous charges is the same way innocent citizens used to be abused during the misrule of Yahya Jammeh with impunity. That is, folks merely exercise their constitutional rights only for orders to come from top, left, right and centre for them to be arrested, detained and tried with trumped up charges and then end up in remand or jail for several years. This is impunity that must not be allowed to rear its ugly head again in the Gambia.
All Gambians must speak up against the unlawful arrest, unlawful detention and kangaroo trial of Kasim Fadera that tantamount to kidnapping and persecution. If we allow this kidnapping and persecution perpetrated by the Gambia Government to remain then we are surely endangering the lives of each and every one of us.

I therefore demand that the IGP drop these bogus charges against Kasim Fadera and apologise to him and from henceforth refrain from arbitrarily infringing on the rights of citizens.
Furthermore I strongly advise Kasim Fadera to sue the IGP for unlawful arrest and detention contrary to Section 19 of the Gambia Constitution.

Madi Jobarteh

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