Abdoulie Sanyang, head of the Gambia Police

Police brutality is the excessive and unwarranted use of force by law enforcement. It is the worst form of police misconduct or violence and is a civil rights violation.

It also refers to a situation where officers exercise undue or excessive force against a person or group of people. Gambia’s Police have come under spotlight with demand on the Inspector General of Police, Anti-Crime Unit and Paramilitary who are agents of police brutality to look into allegedly committed human rights violations of the Gambia police force.

Even after the end of the authoritarian regime under Yahya Jammeh in 2016, The Gambia that was expected to undergo a complete transition to democracy and respect of the rule of law. The new Adama Barrow government that came with so much expectations of system chsnge had decided to mingle old wines in new bottles thus the hopes of security, civil service and other institution performs was ignored for political gains as a result a lot of developments plans could not be met. A key national security policy that provides for efficient, accountable, reliable and effective security sector could not be achieved after 6 years in power.

Since the transfer of power, the mandate to ensure internal security has mainly rested with the national police authority, the Gambia Police Force. However, the police ill-equipped for such task, as infrastructure, equipment and trained personnel are lacking. Thus the old system of police brutality is continiously practised unabated. First, there are insufficient resources available to ensure effective personnel management, and second, the police are kept being accused of not doing enough to fight crime and ofcause most of them if now all are so unprofessional.

Citizens make little use of the existing complaints mechanism. In June 2018 and December 2021 after the December 4th elections hundreds of Gambians poured at the United Democratic Party ( UDP) leader’s residence along the Kairaba Avenue to show solidarity and the Barrow administration fearing a demonstration ordered the Gambia Police Force to forcefully dispersed UDP supporters with the use of toxic teargas. Senior Barrow inner circle members with Alkali Conteh in perticular and President Barrow himself are on record to having admitted ordering police to use excessive force on UDP supporters.

Police came with trucks full of paramilitary unit who are all equipped with guns but only use teargas on hundreds of supporters forcing them to flee at all directions . The unarmed UDP supporters became prey of the police and many of them fell unconscious and taken to the nearest hospitals with the support of the Red Cross and ambulances.

(Archive picture:) Gambia Riot Police

Amingst the causalities were very young children and elderly persons.

As if that was not enough the same unit of the police storm the Bakau and throw teargas in people’s private homes including home of honorable member of parliament of Bakau Hon. Assan Touray. An elderly woman said to be the mother of the former Bakau member of the National Assembly got fainted, she is close to 90 years of age. This was aimed to instill fear in the community and perpetrators also aim to cause a lot of discomfort for opposition supporters as a show of power for no crime other than showing solidarity to their a party leader other than Adama Barrow.

But the police must know that in this day and time no crime against humanity can go without being recorded and one day the; long arm of justice will get to them. The most unfortunate side of their act was they were only after those members of the UDP because supporters of the National People’s Party (NPP) were all over the KMC at different corners and no police was after them, the million questions are why?

Selective justice must stop and the police must not discriminate in their persuit of maintaining law and order. The police should know that they are paid by tax payers and therefore the service must be just and not selective. One must warn them that justice will prevail one day. For president Adama Barrow to allow himself to be on record that he ordered the firing of teargas on the three years Jotna protesters who were on state own permitted protest, here the police were throwing teargas on peaceful and authorized assembly was the lowest the Barrow administration could descend.

But instead of quickly recovering and revert back to their policy of a new Gambia with its golden slogan of NEVER AGAIN, it allowed itself to be dragged deeper into the old system to a level it would be difficult to turn the clock for a better legacy. Yesterday action of the police at Brikama has once again set precedence that the Gambia Police force cannot recover as it would continue to be used as a tool of suppression and members of the police hated by society until this regime too is casted in the dark books of Gambia history and the Gambia public too need redemption as most are easily fooled into believing that leadership must be obeyed and not question nor accountable to the people.

Let justice guide our actions towards the common goal….