Interior minister Ousman Sonko said: “First and foremost, the agency is a law enforcement institution and it is therefore proper to reflect this… The name change is also consistent with what obtains in the sub-region.”
The minister also said the agency is “gravely concerned” about the rate of arrests and conviction of young people for cannabis possession saying 1538 people were arrested from 2010 to 2013 and asked for an amendment to the act reducing penalties for certain drug offences.
He stated: “Considering the fact the fine for possession is D250,000 and/or in default three years jail term, and the fact that average Gambian youths cannot pay this fine, there is a need to revisit this aspect of the Act to avoid a situation where many more young people would have been incarcerated. This may help decongest the prisons and obviate or reduce government spending on prison maintenance such as feeding, healthcare and clothing. Moreover, without such an amendment, the number of young ex-convicts who would be out in our streets in the near future will be so huge that it may potentially create social problems and other acute social vices. Furthermore, such imprisonment of young first time convicts may expose them to hardened criminals in prisons who may negatively influence their lives forever. It is for this reason, among others, that the agency wishes to suggest that fines be scaled depending on the quantity for the first time offenders in cannabis possession.”
Meanwhile, lawmakers on same day passed the Rent Bill 2014 and the Gambia National Petroleum Company Act.]]>