By Dr Henry DR Carrol
Drug Law Enforcement Agency, The Gambia: The DLEAG, was established in 2005, as an independent security establishment, in pursuance of Section 4 of The Drug Control Act (2003). The DLEAG, has undergone a plethora of reforms, including the official alteration of its official name to Drug Law Enforcement Agency, The Gambia and the modus operandi of doing so, was by an amendment of Section 4 of The Drug Control Act (DCA) in 2014.
The DLEAG, has 8 departments with many units as per its revised or reformed structure. Its directorates include: Operations, Administration, Finance And Logistics, Intelligence And International Co-operation, Demand Reduction And Public Affairs, Forensic Investigation, Legal Affairs And Technical. The Director General, who is officially appointed by the President in pursuance of the DLEAG Act (2005), is the overall head of the DLEAG. He/she exercises general control and direction of the agency’s official activities. He/she is assisted by the Deputy Director General, who is also appointed by the President. The present DG of the DLEAG is, Mr Bakary Gassama. Section 15 (1) of The Drug Control Act (2015), states The Agency’s official functions thus: “To enforce, regulate, co-ordinate and control all matters relating to illicit drug trafficking and abuse in the Country.” The DLEAG definitely needs some urgent official reforms, in order to promote its official efficiency. For example the DLEAG, must stop the unacceptable practice of exposing alleged drug “pushers” or “traffickers” on the national or private televisions, (before their trials), for the public to see them, without covering their faces, because it is a cardinal principle of English Law, “that every person, is presumed to be innocent, until he/she has either confessed to a crime, or until he/she has been proved guilt in a competent court of law, beyond all reasonable doubt.” Professor Dr Aboubacarr Senghore, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Higher Education, a former dean of the Faculty of Law at the UTG, (until recently when he got an international job in Turkey), was a former chairman of the DLEAG board.
Gambia Prison Service (GPS): The Prisons Act was enacted on 1st January 1954, by the then Legislative Council in colonial Gambia, which was the precursor of our present National Assembly or Parliament, that is headed by the Honourable Speaker, Honourable Mrs Mariam Jack–Denton, my learned friend, who was The Gambia’s first female lawyer. A prison, is otherwise called “House of Correction.” I am happy to report that my late beloved paternal grand uncle, Honourable Mr Wilfred Davidson Carrol, the second Gambian Oxford University-trained lawyer, was officially appointed by His Excellency, Sir Arthur Richards (KCMG), the then British Colonial Governor in The Gambia, as a a member of the said council, and in 1931 he singlehandedly drafted Gambia Criminal Code Bill, which was passed by the said Council, (after it had been hotly debated by Members), and it was later enacted as an act or statue in 1934, when the said governor, assented to it. This important code, which is an integral part of our criminal justice system, is still being used today by The Gambia’s legal fraternity mutatis mutandis (Latin – with the necessary changes or amendments).
For more on the late Honourable Mr Wilfred Davidson Carrol, let me refer you to his impressive profile entitled: “Wilfred Davidson Carrol (1900-1941) – Pioneer Lawyer”, in pages 127 to 134 of Hassoum Ceesay’s masterpiece book entitled, Patriots: Profiles of Eminent Gambians, published in The Gambia in 2015, and which was launched by Honourable Mr Sheriff Bojang, the then Minister of Information & Communication Infrastructure.
The Prisons Act (1954), relates to the custody, regulation and rehabilitation of prisoners, with a mandate to carry out these Official functions:
· To maintain Prisoners Security, and ensure their safe custody;
· To manage the infrastructure of Prisons ;
· To develop Prison Officers professionally and
· To rehabilitate all types of prisoners.
The Prison Service, is headed by a Commissioner of Prisons (See Section 182 (1) of the said Constitution), Mr Ansumana Manneh, is the present Commissioner of Prisons. The late Hon Mr Wilfred Davidson Carrol, was a very good friend of prisoners. In his profile in the said book, Hassoum Ceesay inter alia wrote, “In 1940 he charged the Colonial Government of neglect of the prisoners and suggested increase in ration and introduction of library facilities for inmates.”
The immediate past president of Zimbabwe, His Excellency Mr Robert Mugabe, studied for his LLB Degree, when he was in prison. The Prison Service, indeed needs some reforms, in order to enhance its official efficiency.
The Gambia Police Force: The GPF was first established by The Police Act, which was enacted by the Legislative Council of Colonial Gambia in 1950. It is therefore very preposterous and outrageous, for Chapter X11 of The Gambia’s 1997 Constitution, to erroneously provide for the establishment of The Police Force and Prison Service. Section 178(1) reads: “There shall be a Police Force of The Gambia of which the Inspector General of Police shall be the head.” This is indeed, a monumental constitutional error. It is practically and legally impossible for the GPF to be consecutively established by two radically different legal instruments, both of which, are still subsisting in law.
Section 178(2) reads: “The Police Force shall be equipped and maintained to perform its traditional role of maintaining law and order and such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.” For now, the categories of official duties of The GPF, are closed. What is being alluded to here as the “traditional role” of the GPF, is the official role, that had already been expressly encapsulated in the aforesaid Act (The Police Act 1950). Therefore the two aforesaid constitutional provisions, are merely affirming the legal existence of the GPF. The aforesaid constitution, cannot therefore establish the GPF in 1997, when it entered into force, because some eminent and learned Gambians who are still alive, and were employees of the GPF years ago, can authoritatively assert, with a preponderance of evidence, that the GPF was in fact in legal existence, well before 1997. A good case in point , is my good learned friend and senior, Mr Antouman AB Gaye, a former Honourable Master of the High Court and a former Principal Magistrate, who has authoritatively informed me during my legal research, that in 1965 (the year when Colonial Gambia got independence from imperial UK), he was a police officer in the GPF, and the then Chief Superintendent of Police, was British–born MR GD Mayden. Qui priore est tempore, portio est jure (Latin: He who is first in time, has priority in law). The present able IGP, is Mr Mamour Jobe, who is one of my good undergraduate LLB students, at the Faculty of Law at the UTG. two former IGPs are Mr Rex King and Mr Yankuba JM Sonko, who is also a panelist and resource person at this important consultative forum on national security.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the GPF that requires urgent reform, is to change the official nomenclature of the Gambia Police Force to the Gambia Police Service. This is indeed a very debatable matter, because there are good points, both for the motion and against the motion.
In the light of the aforesaid, it is quite evident, that all of the seven Gambian security sector institutions, indeed require urgent reforms pro bono publico (for the good of the public). Here terminates my law lecture..
Author’s Note: This law lecture was my presentation as a panelist and resource person, in the National Security Policy Consultative Forum, organised at the Ocean Bay Hotel on 19th and 21st September 2018, co-sponsored by UNDP., EU and Ecowas and officially opened by His Excellency Mr Ousainu Darboe, Vice President of The Republic Of The Gambia and Minister of Women’s Affairs and the Chairman of the National Security Council and the Armed Forces Council.
Dr Henry DR Carrol (MRG), is the chairman of The Gambia Law Reform Commission and Solicitor General emeritus of The Gambia.