Thursday, May 19, 2022

TRRC Recommends Former, Present NIA Agents Banned From Holding Gov’t Office

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In this column we will publish excerpts from the TRRC report.

TRRC PAGE With Mustapha Jallow

The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) has recommended in a report recently made public that both former and present agents of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) be banned from holding any office with the government for their alleged roles in torturing detainees and perpetrating other human rights abuses.

The report that was submitted to President Barrow, was on Friday, 24 December, 2021 made public by the current Justice Minister at a conference centre in Bijilo.

“The following present and former NIA officials who directly and indirectly participated in the torture of detainees and other gross human rights violations and abuses must be banned from holding any office with the government of The Gambia for a minimum of 10 years. The commission believes commensurate with the severity of their actions,” the commission said.

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The agents recommended to be banned are Lamin Bo Baaji, Tejan Bah, Foday Barry, Ebrima Jim Drammeh, Salimina Drammeh, Momodou Hydara, Ousman Jallow, Lamin Jobarteh (Babadinding) and Baba Saho.

It also recommended for Harry Sambou, former NIA official and Samsideen Sarr, a former senior military officer, be banned from holding public office for five years for their alleged participation in the torture of Omar Dampha and Ballo Kanteh respectively.

 Institutional Reforms

Meanwhile, the commission said: “The NIA must be completely overhauled and re-orientated to ensure that its principal function and duties are limited to its traditional intelligence gathering role and such related responsibilities.”

“The NIA must be completely stripped of its policing powers which allowed the institution to concern itself with ordinary matters that traditionally falls within the jurisdiction of the police in the exercise of its law-and-order duties.

“The Special Investigations Unit of the NIA which over the years had been used to oppress and brutalise perceived opponents of Yahya Jammeh and those who befell the misfortune of coming into contact with the NIA, must be disbanded immediately.”

According to the commission, the extensive legal powers given to the NIA to investigate and concern itself with the private issues and lives of citizens and businesses must be removed immediately.

“This is important to fulfil, observe and protect citizens constitutional right to privacy and confidentiality and to completely depart from the unlawful practice of the agency misusing its powers and authority by unnecessarily intimidating and harassing private citizens especially persons that are of interest to the state socio-politically,” it stated.

The truth commission also proposed that the recruitment process of NIA personnel should be overhauled and more stringent essential requirements at the minimum should be introduced to ensure the institution hires individuals who possess minimum academic qualifications and professional experience to effectively and competently carry out the required functions of the institution.

“All detention facilities at the NIA must be removed to ensure that the culture of arbitrarily detaining suspects completely ceases. This is important in shifting the mindset and direction of the NIA to an intelligence-based institution and not a policing and detention centre,” said the truth commission.

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