Rights defenders allege gov’t foot-dragging over beach sex case

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By Tabora Bojang

Child rights defenders have been vocally asking about the fate of a case involving John Veneau, a French Gendarmerie official posted to the Ministry of Interior as part of a Franco-Gambian security educational and legal cooperation between the two countries. The man was caught allegedly having sex with a girl believed to be a minor in the sea and was handed over to the police.
Rights defenders alleged that the accused is yet to be charged and is widely believed to have left the shores of The Gambia.

Many concerned people have told The Standard that they could not understand the lack of clarity in the case or investigations between the Police, AG Chambers, Interior Ministry and of recent, Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Interior Minister Ebrima Mballow had confirmed to The Standard last November that his ministry has completed investigations into the case and had referred it to MOFA which is responsible for the state’s diplomacy, bilateral and multilateral affairs for ‘advice and necessary actions’.

The Standard’s recent enquiries on the matter took us to MOFA where a source said the case has never reached their desk, neither to their knowledge except that they only heard about in the media.
Our source who prefers anonymity further disclosed that MOFA does not deal with issues concerning criminal cases.

“I think this is a misinformation. Interior should have shown you a letter where they indicated that the case is referred to this ministry. We only deal with diplomacy or diplomats but not criminals or criminal issues. Anything criminal is referred to the ministry of Interior as the parent body,” a MOFA official said.
However when contacted again on MOFA’s response, Interior minister Mballow insisted that the letter from his ministry was sent to foreign affairs, adding that since the minister and some senior ministry staff might be new, the case might not have been brought to their attention yet.

Mballow said he would consult his permanent secretary to write back to the foreign affairs to provide them a reference number of the said letter.
“I am very much aware of the story you have been asking me for over several months ago. I know 100% that I have sent them the letter,” Minister Mballow said.