The Minister of Interior has indicated that thorough investigation will be conducted on allegation of torture of one Ousman Darboe.
In a press release issued on 26th July 2019, the Minister said:
“However, my Ministry takes allegations of torture and police brutality very seriously and has attentively listened to all your grievances, complaints and resentments against our Law enforcement agents.
Therefore, a Committee of independent investigators from all the security sectors has been constituted to thoroughly investigate and determine whether Mr. Darboe was tortured as alleged. Should the investigations reveal that he died as a result of torture, those implicated will face the full force of the Law.”
Mr. Ousman Darboe, a 33-year-old market vendor in Serekunda was arrested on 12th July, 2019. Police sources say he was a known asthma patient who was detained by the Police Anti-Crime Unit and subsequently granted bail. According to the press release, he died a week later at a local health facility and not under police custody.
Mr. Darboe’s death has led to allegations of Police brutality which culminated in angry demonstrations on Wednesday.
The ministry expressed its heartfelt condolence to the bereaved family and loved ones.
“The Ministry also seizes this opportunity to extend the condolences of the entire security apparatus of The Gambia to the family of the late Ousman Darboe as they go through a very difficult period of mourning the death of such a loving, caring and responsible husband, father and parent. We are deeply saddened by Ousman Darboe’s demise and pray that our independent investigations bring healing and closure to his death.”
The minister also summed up developments on Wednesday as follows:
“Ousman’s unfortunate and sad death led to violent protests at the Serrekunda Market, Bijilo, Bertil Harding Highway and other areas within the Greater Banjul Area, resulting in sporadic looting and violent attacks against innocent Gambians on Wednesday July 24th 2019. Protesters attacked the offices of the Anti-crime Unit and subsequently burnt the house of Commissioner Mboob, the Head of The Anti-crime Unit.”
He then called for peace and calm:
“While we sympathise with the bereaved family and are deeply saddened by Ousman’s death, we appeal for calm, patience and understanding as the investigators meticulously probe into the circumstances leading to his death.”
Regarding Brikama where “another tense demonstration was taking place against allegations of financial corruption and incompetence directed at the Brikama Area Council,’ the minister said the security forces had to intervene to keep the peace and restore calm.
The press release continued as follows:
“It is against this unpleasant picture festering its ugly head in our young democracy, that we sincerely appeal against all acts of vandalism and looting as they are unlawful, violent, inhumane and potentially dangerous. If Police Stations and private properties are vandalised and looted, it is the Gambian people that bear the brunt and everybody will be a looser.”
The Ministry further reminds the public that The Gambia is governed by a Constitution and that the Government of The Gambia seeks to promote a culture of rule of law.
“Laid down procedures for all activities that are to be undertaken by either individuals or group of people in a public space including protests, must follow due processes key to which is requesting for and obtaining a permit via the competent authority (The Office of the Inspector General of Police). The thinking behind this is to ensure the protesters have security and that the process is orderly while at the same time, protecting other Gambians and their properties in case things get out of hand.
“The public is advised to desist from taking the Law into their hands. Mob justice and or self-initiated justice have no place in our national laws.
“Equally, it is imperative for the Gambian population to note that “WE”, Government and citizens alike, must work hand in hand to nurture our new found freedoms. Democracy does not mean doing or saying anything you like. All and sundry must observe the rule of law to safeguard the peace and democracy every Gambian and non-Gambian alike enjoy.
“In light of the above, the Public is advised to desist from such violent and unlawful activities that can undermine the peace, security and stability of our dear nation that is coming out from 22 years of violence and dictatorship.
“We thank you all for your understanding and cooperation.
“God bless The Gambia and her people.”