By Olimatou Coker
Emmanuel Daniel Joof, the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, said the police play a pivotal role in the governance machinery of every country, saying they are one of the guardians of the rule of law.
Chairperson Joof made these remarks last week during a 2-day capacity building training for senior police officers on human rights protection mechanisms.
The training was organised by the NHRC at Tendaba and centred on the police code of conduct and the guidelines for policing public assemblies in The Gambia. It targeted 12 senior command of the Gambia Police Force.
“These two documents that we will be looking at will strengthen police officers’ understanding and capacity to respect and protect the rights of others, especially those who are sometimes excluded or discriminated against, such as vulnerable groups including women, children and minorities,” he explained.
The NHRC boss said a code of conduct is therefore not only important but a necessity for the GPF.
He said the code of conduct is a document to be owned by the GPF and the NHRC only provides support in developing it and training their officers on the code of conduct and providing copies for the GPF.
He said the police as protectors of the law have both a legal duty as a moral obligation to uphold human rights standards and act strictly in accordance with the law and the spirit of national, regional and international human rights laws, standards, frameworks and obligations.
Ebrima Bah, assistant Inspector General of Police, said these two documents are very timely in that their promulgation coincides with the Gambia having emerged from a very difficult period in terms of respect and protection of human rights.
“Given the pivotal role of law enforcement in the safeguard of individual civil liberties, the constitution of the Gambia empowers the Gambia Police Force to maintain law and order and whenever these right are encroached upon by other people, the police force is required to investigate and make sure those found wanting are duly punished for their transgression in respect of criminal matter. Civil matters are equally taken up by private legal practitioners in civil proceedings to ensure the rule of law prevails,” he highlighted.
He added that these two documents will undoubtedly facilitate the performance of the police officers in their day to day operations and policing of public assemblies.
“It is my sincere hope that the participants here will critically scrutinise both documents and proffer relevant inputs to further enrich it. Upon its adoption, I am confident that they will be very good references for officers across the strategic, operational and tactical levels of Gambia Police Force,” he added.
Bah called on the civil society and development partners to emulate the NHRC and join him in his efforts to transform the Gambia Police Force into professional law enforcement entity that all Gambians can be proud of.