By: Kebba AF Touray
Division and section heads of The Gambia Police Force, GPF, have called on the President Adama Barrow at State House on Friday July 13th 2018. The meeting was meant to provide the senior law enforcement officers the opportunity to table their challenges before the president, with a view to mitigating them.
Speaking on the occasion, Commissioner Omar Darboe, decried that the Police force has been neglected for decades, amidst constraints which include lack of patrol vehicles, communication, man power resources and mediocre salary. He call on the president to help provide solution to their challenges.
Lala Camara, a female Police Commissioner, stated that they have established a Female Police network with the objective of pushing and enforcing the welfare of female police officers. She also decried low representation of females in the GPF, adding that the force has only one female commissioner. She appealed to the president to upgrade their representation.
Vice President Ousainou Darboe, disclosed that Government aims to have a non-partisan, non-tribal police force, noting that the police should be loyal to the state and not to individuals, and should exercise their responsibilities on a neutral basis.
The President Adama Barrow, said the meeting is meant to have a dialogue with the GPF within the context of Government’s democratic disposition, to establish and sustain peace, security and national reconciliation; that Gambians generally appreciate peace due to the fact that it is priceless; that citizens left the country when they smelt fear that there would be violence last year and urged the citizenry to appreciate and tolerate diversity and peaceful coexistence.
“Leadership is a shared responsibility, and this is demonstrated through the roles we play in our various institutions, communities and organizations. Such roles and responsibilities make it compelling for us to encourage dialogue to address our concerns and differences peacefully. This is a key principle in all processes of conflict prevention and resolution. Entrusted with leadership roles, we should be courageous enough to express ourselves and discuss our challenges and burning issues openly and frankly, in order to find suitable and lasting solutions. Importantly as leaders, it is mandatory that we listen and investigate thoroughly and impartially, to make informed decisions. Otherwise, we will fail to discharge our duties responsibly,” Barrow told the gathering; that the challenge now is for the Police to demonstrate that they are a disciplined and trustworthy law enforcement institution, capable of building public confidence and regaining their positive image and past glory.
“The onus on the Police in the New Gambia includes operating lawfully and moving away from dictatorial tendencies and abuse of citizens’ rights. The security forces now operate in a democratic environment where fundamental rights should be respected, and all citizens treated with dignity. The malpractices under the last dictatorship, are not acceptable in the New Gambia that all of us should work hard to nurture,” he added.
He said as law enforcement agents, the Police depends and thrives on discipline and respect for the Chain of command, in the execution of their duties. These values Barrow said, needs to be maintained in providing public service and in enforcing the law, to protect life and property; that the country is faced with numerous challenges, but can succeed if all cooperate and unite; that to succeed in a fragile democracy, there is the need for right institutions, dedicated personnel and the right frame of mind, discipline and good conduct.
“In light of this, I urge all civilians and law enforcement agents to continue to work together, to manage and reinforce our hard-earned democracy. Everyone has to appreciate and accept that democracy comes with rights and responsibilities,” he stated.
President Barrow further said that democracy should not be misinterpreted as a license to disrespect people or disregard the laws of the land; that all citizens are equal before the law, and must abide by the law, to maintain national peace, stability and progress. This he added, means that no one should take the law into their own hands but rather, we must follow due procedures and processes as spelt out by law.