By Omar Bah
Former Interior minister and leader of the GMC party has condemned the arrest and prosecution of Gambian Imams for allegedly violating Covid-19 regulations.
“As a nation, our laws must protect all, and not some. We must not discriminate against any segment of society. I see the case of the Imams as one of discrimination and unfair and it should stop,” Mai Fatty told The Standard.
Last week Interior minister Yankuba Sonko informed lawmakers that at least 18 imams were slammed with charges of flouting Covid-19 emergency regulations and paraded before law-courts across the country.
In reaction, the GMC leader said: “There is no sense in prosecuting the Imams for violating Covid-19 regulations and shutting your eyes to the daily political rallies taking place across the country. There is no secret that some political parties are on tours across the country, conducting daily public meetings, and in the process intentionally breaking all Covid-19 with maximum impunity. No one in this country can claim not to know that political gatherings are happening daily, against regulations. If they are permitted to break the law with impunity, why should Imams be selected for prosecution for breaking the same law? They even post their meetings publicly on social media for all to see, including law enforcement agencies. Why are they not being arrested for violating Covid-19 regulations? Why arrest the Imams and subject them to inequities? Why the selective justice? Why protect politicians and punish religious leaders? That’s unfair and its discrimination.”
The former special presidential adviser said “arresting and prosecuting imams and leaving politicians out for the same crime is discriminatory, unconstitutional, wrong, unjust and unacceptable. I call on the authorities to withdraw charges against all Imams, and allow them to continue to do Allah’s will. I call on the police to also arrest and prosecute politicians gathering across the country in violation of Covid-19 regulations. That’s fair and just.
“As a former Minister of Interior, no one appreciates more than I the imperative of respect for the rule of law. I have strongly empowered the Gambia Police Force with the institutional discretion and the capacity to do their work with professionalism, without political interference or undue influence from my Office.”
“Violations of the law should attract legal consequences. This is a buffer against impunity. However, all persons are entitled to equal protection under law. Violations of the law are punishable but discrimination is also unconstitutional,” he added.