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GAMBIA: CRITICAL ANALYSIS/INQUIRY INTO FARABA INCIDENT. WAS THE PIU RIGHT?

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The Law Arms the Police Intervention Unit. How, Where, Why and When to use the arms and ammunition is an individual discretion.

Police Act (of The Gambia)

Part VIIA – Arms 20A. Arms for the police

1) The Police Force shall be issued with the following arms and ammunition for the units and purposes specified in this rule-

(a) AK 47 Rifles with 7.62mm ammunition, and Pistol Mab with 9mm ammunition, for use by the Police officers in the Police Intervention unit, in the exercise of their normal duties; and

(b) Mark 4 Rifles with 7.62mm ammunition, for use in the Police Training School, for training purposes.

2) The Police Force, the Police Intervention Unit, and the Police Training School shall each keep and maintain a register of the arms and ammunition issued to and by them.

And these are arms and ammunition are not be used only in ‘emergencies’ but more so ‘in the exercise of their normal duties’.

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So the law arms the Police Officers in the Police Intervention Unit. That puts to rest the question who armed the PIU Officers who were at Faraba. So the other questions would be:

Who ordered the shooting?
Who shot the protesters? This would be known from the register renumber or arms and number of ammunition issued (to which officer) against the number of arms and number of ammunition returned (by which officer)

No qualms about having armed Police Officers. Our Police must be armed, especially in the face of those spates of violent armed robbery and cattle rustling. Unfortunately, often in these circumstances, our Police are ill-equipped to deal with these situations. It begs the questions, why use arms against protesters?

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I still maintain that in the use for force, every police officer must observe the following principles: legality (is the force or order to use force legal); Necessity (is the use of force necessary? Can other means be used without the loss of live); Proportionality (is the use of force proportionate to the level of force from the other part?) and Accountability (you would be held accountable for your action). We would have to apply or juxtapose these principles against what happened in Faraba, from the side of the Police and the protesters, especially the level of ‘force’ and kinds of ‘arms’ from the protesters too.

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And yes, Faraba was a tinderbox. Where was our intelligence? You mean they were in the dark regarding this incident in Faraba? You mean they had no intelligence or surveillance in that village; no ‘informer’? You mean the protest was spontaneous? Many questions in my head. I wish the Emmanuel Joof Commission of Enquiry all the best.

Nko, alafor President Barrow nkoo, we are sitting on a volcano. Land disputes, intra and inter communities, will be the face of The Gambia unless some proactivity is set in motion. Create a Land Commission or strengthen and revitalize one as soon as possible and let communities with grievances come forward with their complaints. Hearing out these grievances, simmering, for now, would serve as a catharsis and a means to solve the anger and grievance.

BY: Njundu Drammeh

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