By Yankuba Jallow
The Gambia National Assembly has on Wednesday the 20th June 2018, condemned what they called the unfortunate incident involving the paramilitary officers of the Gambia Police Force and the Community of Faraba Bantang that occurred on Monday the 18th June 2018 which resulted to loss of lives and sustaining of injuries.
The Assembly indicated that impunity tarnishes the image of a country and that it is the concern of the Assembly that the welfare of the people should be of uppermost consideration in tapping resources in their localities. The House pointed out that the country had waged a bitter fight to free itself from 22 years of autocracy and dictatorship, where fundamental rights and freedoms were trampled afoot; that what happened in Faraba Banta is an assault to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the members of the community. The House maiontains that the current mining scheme is a threat to the only remaining area on which the community depends for rice productions and that the House is concerned that mining has already destroyed two of the community’s farmlands where they grew rice in abundance.
The National Assembly resolved that proper medical care be given to those shot and injured and if need be, be sent abroad for proper treatment if such cannot be offered in the country and for those who lost their lives as a result of the shooting their parents should be given due compensation. Also, those who survive bullet wounds should be also given due compensation, particularly those who may emerge debilitated by injury.
The House indicated that the State should take all reasonable steps and make efforts to prevent police brutality and human rights violations in the future and that the State should ensure that security officers do not use live bullets on unarmed civilians.
The National Assembly also asked the government to appoint an independent investigation body into what led to the issuing of live bullets to the paramilitary and the eventual shooting of unarmed civilians; the government tables or causes to be tabled, the report of the investigation not later than 14 days after receiving the said report.
The House indicated that those found guilty should face due process of the law and that henceforth, the government should halt all mining operations in the area; the issue of mining in the area be reviewed and reconsidered critically, given that it affects the livelihood of the community concerned and that in future, communities be involved in the negotiation before implementing such schemes in their localities; that henceforth part of the proceeds accruing from tapping resources in localities be ploughed back to communities as dividend for the development of those localities. Finally, the State undertakes immediate measures to ensure the security and protection of the people of Faraba.
The National Assembly members called on the Inspector General of Police and Director General of NIA to resign because they may interfere with the investigations. They also suggest that Julakay to be arrested to help in the investigation.