By Omar Bah
Gambian diasporan and criminology expert Modou Lamin Faye, has urged the government to prioritise increasing incentives for the police to curb the ‘disturbing’ trend of officers accepting bribes in public.
The police high command has started a campaign through billboards discouraging bribing the police but that has not addressed the issue.
Commenting on the issue, Faye said: “Bribing law enforcement or government officials is a misconduct that undermines the respect and confidence that the public have for the law and any government institutions. It could also disjoint a structured system that is in place by opening doors for selective enforcement, poor investigations, coercion during an interrogation, which could lead to false imprisonment, encourages organised crimes or other illegal activities such as traffic violations, drug/human trafficking, tax invasions, prostitution, abuse of power, or public offices.”
He said police bribery has been a long-time issue in the Gambia to the point where it is normalised.
“Police are openly soliciting and accepting bribes in exchange to look the other way for drivers to continue violating traffic rules and safety regulations.
These bribes do sometimes result in city ordinances and criminal codes not being enforced, taxpayers and investors not effectively being protected from criminals that rip them off by the police and cause the government to lose revenue. I know some would use the excuse of the police not earning enough salary to feed their families or problems, but may I highlight the fact that there is no reason or excuse as to why law enforcement or government officials should be compromised or use their badge to accept or solicit bribes,” Faye said.
He said every law enforcement officer should have known what they are signing up for and how much they would be making when they took the oath of honour to protect the constitution and the people of The Gambia, which basically states that, they will not betray the public trust, badge, character, integrity, and will always have the courage to hold themselves and everyone else (including family, supervisors, department leaders, and friends) accountable for actions that the law deem illegal or threatens national security/public safety.
“So where does it say that law enforcement or government officials can accept or solicit bribes if their salaries are not enough? Police officers or government officials should always continue to maintain the highest ethical standards and uphold the values of the public and offices they serve. Being a good/humble Muslims or Christians isn’t about praying every day and giving out charities.”
“It is also about doing right by the people you serve even when it doesn’t align with your personal interest. Security leaders such as the interior, justice, and fefence ministers have a huge role to play and help deter law enforcement/government officials from undermining the integrity and the trust of our criminal justice system. The interior minister is the face of our police force, which means that he is entrusted with that position to make sure that police officers and other internal security personnel are taken care of with better pay, incentives, and other benefits,” Faye said.