The Managers of two radio stations are arrested and charged.
Section 19 Subsection (3) of the Constitution states
“(3) Any person who is arrested or detained –
(a) for the purpose of bringing him or her before a court in execution of the order of a court; or
(b) upon reasonable suspicion of his or her having committed, or being about to commit, a criminal offence under the law of The Gambia, and who is not released, shall be brought without undue delay before a court and, in any event, within seventy-two hours.”
Subsection (4) adds:
“Where any person is brought before a court in execution of the order of a court in any proceedings or upon suspicion of his or her having committed or being about to commit an offence, he or she shall not thereafter be further held in custody in connection with those proceedings or that offence except upon the order of a court.”
If these procedures are waited for the radio stations will remain closed as police dig out evidence to try to give legitimacy to their action.
The Inspector General of Police, however, has every moral duty not to prolong a case when the merit of discontinuation is evident. Suspicion could lead to arrest but investigation could quickly allay suspicion based on solid legal grounds. The Inspector General of police should aid the Attorney general to exercise his powers of discontinuing cases if they do not contribute to the promotion of public peace and substantive justice.
The fact that Independence celebrations went on without any threat to public order confirms that fear of such threat could only now remain in the minds of the faint hearted.
The time now calls for peaceful coexistence of those in power and those who are critical of them. They should all be free to express their views without fear or ill will. That is the democratic ethos which should guide our conduct.