By Yankuba Jallow
Members of the National Assembly have called on the government to take a number of steps to pre-empt impunity and safeguard the interest of the victims of the Faraba Banta incident and the community as a whole.
Deputies made this call at the National Assembly on Wednesday June 20th 2018, while commenting on the Faraba Banta incident involving personnel of the PIU of The Gambia Police Force or and the community of Faraba Banta, which occurred on Monday June 18th 2018, resulting in the loss of lives and many injuries.
They called for the immediate resignation of the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of NIA (SIS), in order to prevent them from interfering with ongoing investigations into the Faraba Banta incident.
Deputies indicated that impunity has tarnished the image of country for decades since independence, and this is a major concern for them as the new Assembly in a New Gambia. They opined that the welfare of the people should be the uppermost consideration for anyone who wants to tap resources in their localities. Deputies indicate that the country waged the bitterest fight to free herself from 22 years of autocracy and dictatorship, during which period fundamental rights and freedoms were trampled afoot; noting that what happened in Faraba Banta, is an assault to the fundamental rights and freedoms of members of that community. Deputies further indicated that the current mining scheme is a threat to the only remaining area that the community depends on for rice production and expressed concern that mining has already destroyed two of the community’s farmlands where they grew rice in abundance.
They were unanimous in calling for proper medical care to be given to those shot and injured and if need be, sent abroad for proper treatment if such cannot be offered in the country. They also called for the parents of the departed lives that have unfortunately been lost as a result of the shooting, to be given due and adequate compensation together with those who have survived bullet wounds and other injuries as a result of the incident.
Deputies stressed that the State should take all reasonable steps and efforts to prevent Police brutality and human rights violations in the future, and ensure that Security Officers do not use live bullets on unarmed civilians again.
They tasked Government to launch an independent investigation into how the issuing of live bullets to PIU Officers came about and the eventual shooting to dead of unarmed civilians. Some also for the Government to lay the report before the National Assembly within 14 days after completion of the investigation.
Some maintained that those found guilty face due wrath of the law and that Government puts to an immediate halt, all mining operations in the area and reconsidered and critically review the issue of mining in the area, given the fact that such an activity affects the livelihood of the community concerned. Deputies asserted that in the future, communities should be involved in all negotiations before implementing such schemes in their localities and that part of the proceeds from such activities, be ploughed back to them as development of their localities. Deputies conclude that the State takes immediate measures to ensure the security and protection of the people of Faraba Banta.