By Alagie Manneh
The chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Emmanuel Joof reiterated Saturday the commission’s resolve to address and flag all statements made across the political divide deemed as dangerous.
His comments came after NPP supporters accused the commission of being hypocritical and not being tough on the transgressions of opposition parties and their supporters.
But speaking at The Brunch on Kerr Fatou Saturday, Joof said: “This is not the first time we are raising concerns. If you remember during the election period, after these parties signed the Janjangbureh Peace Accord, there was a period in which the head of state talked about gassing people… and the lawyer of the opposition also talked about destroying Barrow… and we came in and said guys, don’t do that, you have signed this. That day I got praises from some quarters but in the evening some people in both the NPP and UDP abused me. So, we are used to that, but we will continue doing our job.”
He added that remarks made by President Barrow, who is “no ordinary man”, must be flagged if they are deemed “too dangerous and undemocratic”.
“Ousainu Darboe is also no ordinary person. These people are influencers, but the head of state is even at a higher echelon because when he speaks everybody listens, the international community listens, his supporters listen. So, it is our job to flag… It’s not what is said; it’s who is saying it. This is very important because they have following.”
Mr Joof recalled an instance when President Barrow made statements about a particular activist, explaining how the rights commission wrote to him on that matter.
“[President Barrow] was magnanimous enough to say that he’s really a conciliatory person, that he doesn’t want to threaten. But coming back to this issue, we saw that a statement was made and passed. Then another statement came, but here it was no longer borderline. When we read and we see things like people who are arrested and granted bail by a court by the process will be re-arrested, to us, this is a red flag. Our job is to make sure that we don’t allow any politician, not just Mr Barrow [to say and get away with such statements]. But yes, he is the head of state. As a head of state, even though you are excited, and you are angry because of certain things… The point I am making is this; leaders should be careful. Don’t say certain things that will undermine our democratic process and rule of law. We are not in the business of selling ice cream. It is our job to bring back a culture of peace, and we must lead in unity regardless of our religion, our tribe, or region.”