Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category

“GAMBIA’S ECONOMY AT A CROSSROAD”, SAYS IMF

May 23, 2015
Reads :1012
Kanilai Bakery Farm

Kanilai Bakery Farm

Dictator Jammeh

Dictator Jammeh

 

As the Gambian unapologetic monster is set to waste millions of taxpayers money on his birthday, IMF has disclosed that the country’s economy life-supporting machine has rusted. To resuscitate it,the Gambian economy requires strong corrective actions and comprehensive reforms to neutralise its current challenges and set it on a path to sustainable higher growth rate, the International Monetary Fund has said in a report.

The IMF Country Report on The Gambia, which x-rayed the country’s economy based on different indicators, states that “extended period of poor economic performance has left The Gambia facing serious economic difficulties”.

The report noted that the government’s public debt had risen to 100 per cent of the country’s total gross domestic product (GDP) by end-2014. The continuous domestic borrowing by government has almost drained the banks of the needed resources to extend credit to the private sector for development purposes.

However, the IMF pointed out that The Gambia government’s heavy borrowing is not only for use by the central government but also its loss-making public institutions like the national electricity and water provider, Nawec, and the national telecommunications giants, Gamtel and Gamcel.

The budget support disbursements that were withheld by multilateral institutions and “some other factors” also contributed to pushing up the government’s net domestic borrowing, according to the IMF.

At the moment, not only did the commercial banks have little resources to give credit to the private sector, they “have very limited resources to meet the government’s financing needs,” the IMF country report said.

The rationale behind this is that “the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG) has maintained reserve requirements at elevated levels, while increasing the policy rate to 22 per cent”.

Economy decline

The IMF report stated that The Gambia’s real GDP is now estimated to have declined by ¼ per cent in 2014 due to the lost tourism receipts and crops.

With tourism receipts continuing to be negatively affected [by the Ebola outbreak in the sub-region] in the first part of 2015, even under the best-case scenario, the 2015 recovery will be dampened,” the report says.

However, if the regional Ebola outbreak is brought under control by the third quarter of 2015, Gambia’s real GDP is expected to grow by about 5 per cent in 2015 driven by the recovery of agriculture.

Even though neighbouring countries are also reporting a substantial impact on their tourism sectors due to the Ebola outbreak, the impact on The Gambia’s is more severe since tourism provides a much larger contribution to the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

The IMF report pointed out that due to the slump in tourism and fiscal slippages, at end-2014 the level of Gambia’s gross international reserves declined to 4 months of import cover.

The reduction of the reserves indicates that government’s ability to pay for imports and service debts to foreign creditors has reduced and it makes the country more volatile to external shocks.

Inflation increases

The report on The Gambia also noted that the annual inflation rate picked up from 5.5 per cent until August to 7 per cent by January 2015 due to the exchange rate depreciation and the food supply shock.

Corrective measures

Addressing these problems will require strong policy adjustment and significant levels of external assistance,” the report said, adding:“In the absence of strong corrective actions by the authorities, The Gambia would risk undergoing a forced adjustment.”

The IMF said that since half of the government’s debt is from domestic sources, interest payments accounts for more than one third of the country’s revenue in 2015.

The institution warned that in the absence of corrective actions, it is projected that the domestic borrowing in 2015 would crowd out completely room for private credit, the public debt to GDP ratio would edge up further to 105 per cent by year-end, and the gross reserves’ import coverage would decline to about 3¼ months.

These developments would escalate substantially the roll-over risks of domestic public debt and push it onto an unsustainable path, increasing significantly the risk of a loss of confidence in the currency as international reserves fall to an uncomfortable level, and potentially triggering a banking crisis given the elevated level of commercial banks’ exposure to government debt,” the IMF said.

Such a scenario would have long lasting economic repercussions and drastic corrective policies would be required to address such problems.”

with such alarming disclosure from the IMF, a good leader would have given a second thought in celebrating his birthday. But in President Jammeh is a church mouse fattened with tax-payers money for whom he has no love and respect. Anyone who graces his birthday must bear in mind that every chicken thigh or wing you bite into is a flesh of a poor Gambian at home without a decent meal; and wine or juice you sip is the warm blood of a poor Gambian tax-payer with an empty stomach in bed.

Source: The Point

The Judiciary: Gambia’s Constitutional Orphan

May 18, 2015
Reads :758
Author: Lamin J. Darbo

Author: Lamin J. Darbo

By Lamin J. Darbo

Dismissed, expelled, and incredibly, absolutely no reason advanced. And this is the – rumoured and later confirmed – plight of Hon. Chief Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan on 12 May 2015. Weeks earlier, the rumour mills were churning out the summary dismissal of Justice Edrissa Fafa M’bai, a Judge of the High Court, now reportedly resurrected and leapfrogged ahead of serving senior Justices to the presidency of The Gambia Court of Appeal. And weeks before that, it was Justice Penda Dibba, also rumoured to be unceremoniously shown the exit as a Judge of the High Court. Her dismissal remains unannounced, and as usual, unexplained. All three are members of the higher judiciary, top echelon practitioners in the most vital branch of any sensible, pragmatic, and future looking democratic system.

As is routine, life goes on, and affected individuals are left to their own devices, to pick up the pieces, so to say, and negotiate their way around the landmines of Gambian public life. Major assaults on the systemic integrity of Gambian polity passed into the annals of our public intercourse as a matter of course. And with it the delusion that ours is a country alive to its human rights responsibilities under the rule of law, assuming the Honourable Attorney General and Minister of Justice either understands or believes in her recent statement at the closing ceremony of the 56th Ordinary Session on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights in The Gambia on 07 May 2015. The denial persists, and the perpetual date with fantasy continues. What way to manage a collective space that is the public life of a country!

It is common ground that a judicial dismissal throws the target’s life into crisis, particularly in the case of a foreign-national, and especially where the termination is sudden, unexplained, and, in apparent violation of the legal mechanism for removing Superior Court judges. Under circumstances such as these, there is a nagging public suspicion of unjustifiability as against those entrusted with the application of public power, and who committed the actual dismissal with apparent disregard for due process of law. That cannot but offend the personal and public conscience regardless the unflattering antecedents of the judicial officer concerned.

But the central issue is deeper than mere summary dismissal and expulsion of a foreign judge, even with the obvious traumatic implications for those who found themselves in such isolation in a country that suddenly turns hostile. It is nevertheless a matter of legitimate debate whether any country is justified in treating its invited dignitaries so shabbily.

Of more profound significance however are the implications embedded in high judicial officers, tasked with the responsibility of peacefully negotiating all manner of disputes, and assumed as fearless in their personal constitution, meekly marching to the slaughter without a word in their own defence, be that about their innocence, or the arguable violation of their tenure as Superior Court judges according to The 1997 Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia (the Constitution). Where a particular dispute is between the over-mighty state and the comparatively puny individual, can realistic reliance be placed on the even-handedness of such an individual, whether he sits on the High Court, or the Supreme Court? This is not a question of mere theoretical import.

By virtue of their assumed general education and professional training, Superior Court judges are highly opinionated as can be gleaned from the tone of rulings and judgments emanating from the higher judiciary. If in matters directly touching their own lives they have nothing to say, and in circumstances where the public perception is strongly supportive of their innocence, that is a matter of great concern. When former Chief Justice Agyemang was summarily dismissed, she skipped the country in a manner worthy of James Bond. Why such conduct by a high judicial officer in circumstances where she could have relied on the backing, if only diplomatically, of her home government, and powerful international voices? And especially in circumstances where there was no public allegation of wrongdoing? If her opinion of the system she embraced in different judicial capacities over several stints of service was so low, why did she accept any appointment at all from that appointing authority? What implication for public perceptions of the integrity of decisions on bail applications and substantive judgments in the many political cases which come before the courts?

Professionally, I have negligible sympathy for Hon. Ali Nawaz Chowhan whose maiden, non-judicial remarks on appointment as Chief Justice were unsettling and indicative of his arguably partisan leanings. More recently, his ‘opinion’ maintaining the death penalty in the particular circumstances of the case of Colonel Lamin Bo Badjie & 6 Others and the State (SC Crim. Appeal No: 1-7/2011), a case involving neither “violence”, nor “the administration of any toxic substance, resulting in the death of another person”, was disappointing, misguided, and injudicious. He offered no personal thoughts on the thorny issue of the death penalty, relying wholly on the now discredited opinions of Sock, JSC, and former Chief Justice Hon. Emmanuel Akomaye Agim (pp. 81-84, and 89-90 of Judgment), but nevertheless authored the lead dissent on this full bench review of that case.

As recently as a few months ago, he issued a public statement on the 30 December attacks on the State House in Banjul. As the Chief Justice, this was needless intervention in a matter likely to reach the Supreme Court in the course of the legal dispute it triggered. Would the Chief Justice have recused himself in such eventuality? Unlikely! Can he impartially ventilate the issues that would likely come up for judicial determination? With his very public intervention in a live political dispute, even the appearance of impartiality would be suspect.

Only a week or so ago, he again dissented against the part-allowance of former Chief of Defence Staff, Lang Tombong Tamba’s appeal on the speculative grounds that he “had knowledge of the planned coup”. In the salient words of Lord Atkin in Liversidge v Anderson [1941] UKHL 1, [1942] AC 206, the former Chief Justice was clearly “more executive minded than the executive”. In a landmark dissent that now represents mainstream thinking on civil liberties, Lord Atkin contended thus: “In England, amidst the clash of arms, the laws are not silent. They may be changed, but they speak the same language in war as in peace. It has always been one of the pillars of freedom, one of the principles of liberty for which on recent authority we are now fighting, that the judges are no respecters of persons, and stand between the subject and any attempted encroachments on his liberty by the executive, alert to see that any coercive action is justified in law”.

Nothing is therefore further from the reality than suggestions the Hon. Chief Justice was fired for the liberal regime he presided over, Gambia’s answer, if you like, to former US Chief Justice Earl Warren, the towering jurist who shepherded the seismic and justifiably celebrated transformation of Supreme Court jurisprudence on civil liberties, the man who presided over the dismantling of the Plessy edifice of de jure segregation in the United States. The former Chief Justice would be completely out of place should he found himself in the same room as the liberal vanguard of the Warren Court!

Why then was Hon. Chief Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan fired?

Not for want of acumen in appreciating the terrain he must negotiate to survive. Except in an “interlocutory matter” which may be decided by a single judge, the ordinary bench of the Supreme Court comprises “five judges of the Court” (section 125(2) of the Constitution). The Court reaches its decisions by voting for or against a particular position, and it is not uncommon for a Chief Justice to find himself on the losing side. In a polity where the Executive is the predominant player, a Chief Justice who cannot deliver in key political cases will have to go. Notwithstanding his pro-government stance on the death penalty issue in the specific circumstances of Colonel Lamin Bo Badjie & 6 Others and the State (SC Crim. Appeal No: 1-7/2011), and the part-allowance of Lang Tombong Tamba’s appeal, he lost both battles. His gallant individual performance was simply not enough. He was outvoted, and delivered, albeit indirectly, to the abattoir. He was skinned alive and ejected from the luxurious, if unpredictable life and tenuous position of a Gambian Chief Justice. Hon. Ali Nawaz Chowhan should be more concerned with his record than the arguably unlawful summary dismissal and expulsion from our shores.

On any objective analysis, there can be no question regarding the cogency of the contention that the Constitution woefully failed to separate public power. Its design is maximally flawed if only because meaningful authority is almost exclusively lodged in the Executive at the expense of the other two branches. Even where public power is properly balanced by the Constitution, there can be no serious answer to the thesis that law cannot self-implement. For efficacy, it must rely on a political system underpinned by the rule of law, i.e., by the separation of public power in a manner calculated to safeguard individual liberty. According to James Madison, one of confederal America’s leading proponents of federalism, “the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny” (The Federalist No. 47). To effect a practical separation of public power in a democratic society, one branch of government cannot be legitimately vested with complete dominance over the others. Where power is properly separated, the hiring and firing functions across different branches of government must be decoupled to avoid a tyrannical application of public authority. Under both constitutional theory and practice in a proper system of democratic governance, the appointer can, nay, must become functus officio in cases where his hiring power traverses constitutional demarcations. In the context of this discussion, the Executive should have no authority whatsoever to either directly or indirectly fire judicial officers, be they Magistrates, or Superior Court judges. But an arguable ambiguity is embedded in section 141, the key Constitutional provision on judicial tenure. At 141 (2)(c), “a judge of a Superior Court … may have his or her appointment terminated by the President in consultation of the Judicial Service Commission”. The key question is whether 141(2)(c) speaks to a specific or general power! In light of the undisputed fact that countless Superior Court judges suffered summary termination over the years, what removal mechanisms are envisaged by the Constitution? According to section 141 (2) “… a judge of a Superior Court”:- (a) may retire on pension at any time after attaining the age of sixty five years; (b) shall vacate the office of judge on attaining the age of seventy years; or (c) may have his or her appointment terminated by the President in consultation of the Judicial Service Commission

Contextually, the above section is exclusively age-related. If a judge refuses to retire upon reaching the compulsory retirement age of seventy years, the President can then terminate his appointment “in consultation of the Judicial Service Commission”. This appears to be the singular circumstance where the President is vested with the legal mandate to terminate the services of a Superior Court judge.

On the removal of former Chief Justice Abdou Karim Savage, questions were raised about the Constitutionality of his dismissal. Those who viewed his removal as unlawful because repugnant of the Constitution latched on to section 141(4), and the process delineated in subsections (5)-(9) as support. According to section 141(4), “the Chief Justice, a Judge of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Court and members of the Special Criminal Court may only be removed from office for inability to perform the functions of his or her office, whether arising from infirmity of body or mind, or for misconduct”. On the face of it, section 141(4) provides the general basis for removing a Superior Court judge. But this general power vests authority in the National Assembly as stipulated in section 141(5)-(9) and excludes the Executive from any role in the removal of a Superior Court judge. Its trigger mechanism is vague and it is difficult to visualize how and from where the delineated process may be practically commenced in the ordinary run of events. Although the National Assembly is the implementing body of this impeachment-like process, some outside institution must originate the triggering “notice” to set the process in motion. Regardless, a contextual reading of section 141 suggests that subsection (2)(c) speaks only to the very specific retirement age of a Superior Court judge. Any reading giving the President a general power of removing Superior Court judges would frontally collide with section 141(4), would be repugnant to the doctrine and actuality of the separation of powers, and would constitute a major affront to the rule of law. It should be pointed out that section 141(4) was a 2001 amendment and therefore a more compelling statement on the general power of removing Superior Court judges. In light of the “total incongruence” between it and 141(2)(c), the latter must be confined to its specific orbit of age-related terminations. It is unclear what legal authority the President relies on for the routine summary dismissal of Superior Court judges but there appears to be no Constitutional donation of that power. What is more alarming than the unlawful Executive inroads in voiding Superior Court judicial appointments is the unquestioning obeisance of affected judges when shown the exit. Do the judges consider the law on tenure unclear or is it fear of standing up to the Executive behemoth that conditions their unanimous submissive response to blatant lawlessness!

Author: Lamin J. Darbo

Author: Lamin J. Darbo

I am not unmindful of the difficulties confronting judicial officers but the judicial oath and ethics are more compelling considerations than fear, regardless its source. Lord Atkin speaks to Gambia’s judges when he argued: “It has always been one of the pillars of freedom, one of the principles of liberty for which on recent authority we are now fighting, that the judges are no respecters of persons, and stand between the subject and any attempted encroachments on his liberty by the executive, alert to see that any coercive action is justified in law”. When will the guardians of the rule of law stand up for themselves in defense of this most noble doctrine by challenging the routine unlawful dismissals of Superior Court judges? Orphan status is utterly unbefitting of a learned branch of Government like the Judiciary!

SUPREME COURT DISMISSES CHARGES AGAINST LT. GENERAL LANG TOMBONG AS IT SETS AMIRAL SARJO FOFANA FREE

May 7, 2015
Reads :1258
LANG TOMBONG AND NDURE CHAM

LANG TOMBONG AND NDURE CHAM

Even though many lost hope for justice in what seemed to be a never ending legal battle between alleged army chiefs and Jammeh’s dictatorial regime, it finally prevailed yesterday to the chagrin of most Gambians. A panel of five-member judges of the Supreme Court of The Gambia led by the Chief Justice set Rear Admiral Sarjo Fofana free in a judgment delivered on his appeal case filed before the court. Furthermore, the Supreme Court, in its quest to deliver justice, dismissed Lt. General Lang Tombong Tamba’s appeal on count 3 and 4. Similarly, the court discharged him on count 2 which is treason and acquitted him on count 1-conspiracy to commit treason. The judgement, has blown a new puff of hope in the Gambian judicial system which is marred by corruption, executive interference and gross miscarriages of justice.

Delivering the lead judgment, Justice Gibou Janneh observed the appellants were arraigned at the high court on a four-count charge of conspiracy to commit treason, treason, and concealment of treason before Justice J.E. Ikpala. He said at the closure of the prosecution’s case, the defence opted for a no-case-to-answer submission, which was rejected by the court and the accused persons through their counsel refused to enter into their defence. The appellants were then convicted by the said court and sentenced on count one, which was conspiracy to commit treason, to 20 years in prison and on count two, which was treason, to another 20 years in prison. Lang Tombong Tamba was also sentenced to 10 years in prison on count three, which was concealment of treason, and another 10 years in prison on count four, which was treason. The appellants, not happy with the judgment, through their counsel filed an appeal separately at the court of appeal, which was dismissed. The appellants further filed an appeal before the Supreme Court.

 “Having gone through the appeal filed by the defence and the statement of case filed by the state, the fact is whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant conviction of the appellants,” the judge queried. The prosecution in counts one and two relied on the corroborative evidence of its witnesses, Justice Janneh went on to add that in his view the trial judge was speculative.

The trial judge recorded that PW5, Yahya Darboe, was not sworn when testifying and the defence applied for the witness to be treated as a hostile witness. He said the trial judge missed two legal principles regarding a person to be sworn. It seemed that the trial judge was not aware of section 125 of the criminal procedure code, and counsel did not also bring it to his attention. The trial judge having realised the error of Yahya Darboe testifying without being sworn, and no reason was given as to why he was not sworn, ought to have excluded him or not taking into account his evidence, in his judgment regarding the guilt of the appellants. The trial judge wrongly took the evidence of PW5, Yahya Darboe, who was neither sworn nor examined legally. There was no evidence connecting Tamba and Fofana in count one and two and Justice Janneh, therefore, allowed the appeal, and acquitted and discharged them in count one and two.On concealment of treason, there was nothing in exhibit A which corroborated the evidence of PW1, Major Momodou Alieu Bah, adding that what it stated was that Tamba had knowledge of the planned coup. Apart from admissions in exhibit C, the court had no corroborative evidence to rely on.

On concealment of treason, there was nothing in exhibit A which corroborated the evidence of PW1, Major Momodou Alieu Bah, adding that what it stated was that Tamba had knowledge of the planned coup. Apart from admissions in exhibit C, the court had no corroborative evidence to rely on, and had the appellant, Tamba, testified at the closure of the prosecution’s case, the judge would have been convinced. Justice Janneh further said it was risky and a gamble for the appellant not to give evidence, when the court rejected his no-case-to-answer submission. He, therefore, held that there was no miscarriage of justice, hence dismissed the appeal on the concealment of treason and affirmed the conviction of the high court.

The appeal of Rear Admiral Sarjo Fofana was allowed, and he was therefore acquitted and discharged. For Lt General Tamba, he was acquitted and discharged on count one and two, and his appeal on count three and four was dismissed and the conviction of the high court was affirmed. However, the Chief Justice said the appellant, Lt General Tamba, had knowledge of the planned coup; he therefore dismissed the appeal on counts one and two. In respect of counts three and four, he agreed that the appeal be dismissed. He agreed that for Rear Admiral Sarjo Fofana the appeal be allowed, and the appellant be acquitted and discharged. All the other judges supported the judgment.

Courtesy of The Point

The Back Way Conundrum (Our Euro Crazed Society)

May 2, 2015
Reads :1135
Author: Saul N'jie

Author: Saul N’jie

Migrants at sea. Photo courtsey of the guardian

Migrants at sea. Photo courtsey of the guardian

By Saul N’jie

When I left home for the shores of these United States I was no more than a boy. I left a good number of my childhood friends back home, some of the brightest human beings I know to date. These folks, by no fault of their own are a waste of human capital. Their intellects and thinking faculties are being wasted, for the institutions that could cultivate their capabilities are not there or even if they are, they don’t have access to them for several reasons. One of which is agency, the who you know, or lack of resources, you name them. I know that if they have had the same opportunity as I did — to study in the United States, they would have been top notch scholars in their own rights. The system within which they are living in is rather unforgiving; for the most part if you are not well connected, lucky, or affluent, you are doomed to mediocrisy. These are real problems. These are human lives at stake. These wonderful souls are the present and the future, our country needs them for both human and economic capital. For most of these folks the only way to make anything out of life, at this juncture, is to travel abroad in order to make it. We usually brush off their sentiments but in reality they have good, sincere, and valid points. We should go to the root causes of these problems for they will give us interesting insights as to why someone would want to die for the idea of Europe. We cannot just shrug them off as “fools”, “ignoramuses”, etc., for if one is willing to die for something then we as a society, should look at why they are willing to die for such in a very empathetic way.
Granted, most of us are against the backway migration. Yes, most of us think it is awful, abhorrent; yes, most of us think that the economic and political malaise has a lot to do with this crisis. Yes, most of us think it is so unnecessary, uncalled for, and so not worth it. However, it is hard to argue against someone who is willing to die for something; it is hard to argue against someone who thinks that the only way out is to put their lives at risk. Not many people are willing to die for their ideals. Atypically, for most of these back way migrants one cannot argue that Europe is not an ideal they are not willing to die for. Which begs the question: why are they willing to die for such? Are we creating the ambiance, culture where people would think that this venture is something not worth dying for, apart from hashtags and facebook postings of the gore, indescribable pictures of dead bodies? If someone is willing to die for something, that, my friends, should be looked at seriously and figuratively. For some youths back home, it is Europe or nothing else, and it is not hard to see why.
Most of these kids are not from old money, or from the higher echelons of society, or have some connections to folks who can get them nice gigs. Most of the developments around their neighborhoods are not done by some civil servant or some local worker, absent for some of those in certain enclaves of the country. On their side of the tracks, most of the things they see around them are mostly built by “Semesters.” The “Semesters” are their reality. They are the quintessential rag to riches kinds of folks they can honestly relate to. Perhaps, we should contextualize and discuss this issue based on their facts and realities instead of speaking and discussing things in a vacuum. We usually say that most Black kids in the American hoods want to be rappers, hustlers, ball players, and whatnot. Well, those are the success stories they know, not many lawyers, engineers, or doctors. The same analogy could be applied to the “Semester” phenomenon in The Gambia. Most of the folks these kids can relate to are the “Semesters.” We all live in our own bubbles, and for some of these kids who are today taking the perilous backway journey, the “Semesters” are the only game in town. They speak their language, dreams, and aspirations. They share similar upbringings, struggles, and what have you.
I have read several comments, articles, and opinions about the back way conundrum plaguing our country — The Gambia. But, interestingly, I am yet to find the one that discussed the realities of a good many of these back way migrants. I think we are missing the sociological aspect in this debate. For most of these back way migrants, the promises of Europe and a better life outweighs any of the horrors that await them in the Sahara and the mediterranean, or even when they get to the Asylum shelters in Italy or Germany, for the idea of Europe, essentially, is their reality and it is an ideal they are ready to risk their precious lives for.
Consequentially, let’s first discuss the way we treat, revere, and adore folks from across the pond; it is pathetically disgraceful. The moment one sets foot on these shores, the dynamics between you and most of the folks you know from back home changes drastically. People talk to you in some weird, revered ways. Most people treat you with respect and you command some kind of authority. Growing up I witnessed this, I saw this, I wanted it, and the idea of the “Semester” was evermore etched in my head. Why wouldn’t any kid want this?
You tell folks that overseas is not as they think it is and that it is not easy. Forgetting that for these folks, mopping floors, wiping asses, or better yet, just the idea of living in Europe or overseas, is far better than living in The Gambia; being fed by their parents, with no real future, other than dreams of better days and waiting for some relative or friend to send them some remittances. It is easy to blame these folks for being lazy or making bad decisions, ignoring the economic calamity that our country is facing. We don’t have enough jobs in The Gambia to keep up with population growth, period! If these unskilled youths don’t go to Europe, what do you suggest? Are we creating the environment to entice them to stay in The Gambia? At first blush, one would argue that Europe is not worth it. This is still arguable; however, the conversations are mostly about the idea that it is not worth it; that they might lose their lives. But, if your argument against someone who is willing to sacrifice their life is that they might lose it, shouldn’t you suggest better alternatives, rather than the mortality argument? If that was the case then wouldn’t a lot of them quit going? In some instances, you have parents and relatives cashing out their entire savings, selling property just so their children could take the back way. Are you going to tell that parent that they don’t love their kid or the venture is not worth it, when their next door neighbor’s kid, who traveled last year has built his parents a new self-container?
You, the ones overseas, are you willing to trade places with these young folks and move back to The Gambia? What are you going to answer if they ask you this question: You claim Europe is not easy, well then, why not come home if it is not? These are important questions to answer, and until we answer these questions in an honest way that warrants a conversation, the back way conundrum is forever going to be with us.
We all have differing views as to why the back way is happening; the problems, and the prognoses to this heartbreaking quagmire, and I sincerely believe that most of us care. But, it is easy to assess and throw analogies and opinions when you are afar, detached from people’s day-to-day experiences. Nevertheless, most of us agree that it is a problem and something needs to be done to tackle the flight of human capital out of our shores and the loss of young lives.To encapsulate this, Europe is the reality in most of our neighborhoods. Overseas, in our neck of the woods, gives you a lot of things, among which are access, respect, personal possessions, status, love, adoration, and influence (power); and boy, since time immemorial, nothing has driven man more than the aforesaid. To fix this, we need a plethora of things, including a serious overhaul of our structural, economic, monetary, financial, political, and most importantly – our societal edifice. In all seriousness, we need to change our society’s perception vis-a-vis “semesters” and those who are overseas and push for a conversation, which I think is long overdue. It  might not be the silver-bullet, but it will be a good place to start.
Source: maafanta.com

DARBOE VOWS TO GET RID OF JAMMEH’S REGIME COME 2016 ELECTION

April 27, 2015
Reads :1137
LAWYER DARBOE

LAWYER DARBOE

The Leader of The Gambia’s main opposition party UDP, lawyer Ousainou Darboe has told waiting Journalists at his Pipeline resident that, “Gambians are more than ready to get rid of President Jammeh’s regime come 2016 presidential election”.

According to him, “the need to end Jammeh’s regime is long over due in order to revamp the decaying economy to a sound and vibrant one on which the country can be built and avail social services to all Gambians while ushering poverty to the exit point”.

“The entire country has rejected the Jammeh regime. This has been demonstrated by Alkalolus who previously never dared to welcome us, today boldly chaired our meetings and speak out their minds. Their open and total rejection of the regime amplifies the status quo has changed from fear to preparedness for positive change”.

The UDP Leader described the tour as very successful despite the stand-off that delayed his tour party for three days. “The tour was very impressive and the reception accorded to us is superb. It’s  very encouraging. In fact there are instances were we went to bed by 4:30am all of which shows how Gambians are ready for change”, Darboe disclosed.

He went on to underscore how the UDP has always abide by the dictates of the constitution. Most importantly,  he reaffirms its militants will continue to do so but will never allow anybody to trample on their rights. The stand-off, he noted has spoken clearly to Gambians and the world at large that power resides with the people and no amount of intimidation or thuggery will repress the thirst for change come 2016 presidential election.

“The UDP will continue to respect the laws but we will never be intimidated again by anybody”, Darboe emphasise

Furthermore, Darboe added, he hopes this type of stand-off between his party and the security force will not occur again not only with the UDP but all other political parties in the country.

“Its very sad that this stand-off occurred at a time when the African Commission is having its extra-ordinary meeting in Banjul thus sending the wrong signal to the world. It is very disgraceful”, The UDP Leader lamented.

“This tour”,  Lawyer Darboe intimated, “is a build-up to the 2016 presidential election. The issue of electoral reforms is not a matter of the UDP alone but all other political parties. As a result, I don’t want to make any comment as far as the electoral reforms are concern”, he concluded

The UDP Leader finally thank Gambians both home and abroad for sponsoring this tour, adding that they have shown their desire and passion for change.

Courtesy of jollofnews.com

WHY PRESIDENT JAMMEH WATCHES GAMBIANS DIE AT SEA

April 24, 2015
Reads :722
Pata PJ- "Yaya Jammeh DOES NOT CARE if half of the country’s youth raced out of that country to never come back"

Pata PJ- “Yaya Jammeh DOES NOT CARE if half of the country’s youth raced out of that country to never come back”

Alarming Statisitics

Alarming Statistics

By Pata PJ

Every day, scores of lives perish in the deserts and the Mediterranean Sea. Hardly does a day go by that you do not read about Gambians dying trying to make it to Europe through the ‘Back Way’. It is devastating. However, none of what has been happening all these years but astronomically worsened in the past couple of years, happens in a vacuum. We’d all have to do something to decelerate it.

I have seen a lot of Gambians take to social media making “Say No To Back Way” videos, to sensitize and dissuade our brothers and sisters from venturing into these very dangerous and uncertain journeys that already claimed more than enough lives. These efforts are great, laudable and are spiraling. However, most came short of identifying and addressing the root causes of the unfortunate tragedy.

The ever growing statistics of the number of people dying at sea, those ‘lucky’ enough to have crossed to become illegal immigrants in Europe, are shockingly alarming. The Gambia, the smallest country in mainland Africa (population less than 2 million) with relative peace, dwarfs nations like Mali and Syrian that have been in turmoil and civil unrest for few years now. Gambia’s 1400 (134 minors) to Nigeria’s 800, arrived in Italy by Sea in the first quarter of 2015. Just last week alone, there were two boat accidents that had at least 750 and 300 lives unaccounted for, respectively. It’s a sad reality that our boys and girls are somewhere in that bottomless ocean and will never be buried.

While we’d all love to have our brothers and sisters stay at home to avoid a literally suicidal journey, we must also be realistic in recognizing that these kids are being forced by their circumstances to make a better living for themselves and their families. As foolish as we think it is for them to see some of us who have ‘escaped’ the struggle from abject poverty as ‘success stories’, it is an innate desire for a man to want to be a provider, especially when they are looked up to as the ‘Yakarr’ of the family. We cannot tell them to not go because is risky when there are no alternatives to the predicament. This is not to make an excuse for our able-bodied youth but is understandable.

Unemployment is the premier causative factor of the economic migration that continues to claim lives and in most cases, levy a hefty financial burden on the already struggling families who would give an arm and leg for a potentially enhanced livelihood, which most times is only promissory and in some cases elusive. The pasture isn’t always a guaranteed greener on the other side. Most of the people who set out on these journeys are poor, provincial kids who either graduated without jobs or dropped out of school and are unemployable. These people hail from families who have always paid their taxes but almost never get to benefit from their government; individually or as a community. So majority of them become Economic migrants, and a few Political refugees escaping shackles and political persecution from an oppressive regime.

So the buck stops at President Jammeh and his Government! In plain terms, Yaya Jammeh DOES NOT CARE if half of the country’s youth raced out of that country to never come back. As a matter of fact, that is lessening his burden of having to deal with an unemployed, ‘unproductive’ lot. Jammeh would have cared if this was anything that posed any sort of threat to his reign. We have seen how he does not hesitate to launch all these violently aggressive “Operations” in order to legitimize his use of force to cower and oppress Gambians further, to deter any potential resistance to his Authoritarianism.

In his characteristic fashion of abdicating responsibility as the country’s CEO, Yaya continues to deflect attention from significant priorities where he is found wanting, to play victim. In his UN address in 2014, Jammeh asked that “The U.N. must conduct a full and impartial investigation into this manmade sinking, capsizing of these boats carrying young Africans to Europe,” accusing European Nations of “racist and inhuman behavior of deliberately causing boats carrying black Africans to sink.”

Lest we forget, a year prior Jammeh in his 2013 Tobaski address to the Nation, shamelessly went off on a tangent to blame his ‘Mandingo Brothers and Sisters’, whom he said comprised the 98% of the youth taking the going to Europe, seeking asylum just to tarnish the image of the country since 1994. He thought that is not only an unpatriotic act but Unislamic and is punishable by Treason. Although this came on the heels of UDP asylum saga, when he’d used his erstwhile unwise Presidential Affairs Minister Momodou Sabally to accuse the US & UK, and insult a whole ethnic group for being tribalist, I believe Jammeh sees no urgency in mitigating the migration because it works in his favor since the troublesome, unpatriotic bunch are leaving the country to patriots. So he’d not lose a night’s sleep over their death.

This unnatural, schizophrenic by-product of mistaken birth, is a delusional hypocrite, divisive lunatic and a self-aggrandizing, deranged ‘thot’ of a president who never takes credit for his failures as the country’s Chief Executive. After claiming to have had evidence that these people claimed persecution for homosexuality and not on ethnic grounds, how dare he flipped that to make it about a particular tribe?

But here is a government that does not have the political will nor the ability to sustain or enhance any sector of the economy that creates jobs to employ 50 Gambian a year since 2001. A government with a leadership that believes he’s doing the country a favor by reigning over her people, giving them cash handouts, food rations and throwing ridiculously expensive festivals to party their pains away at a time the country is on her deathbed. Today, the largest sectors that employ graduating students or dropouts are the Armed/Security Services and Education (teaching). And even for these areas we have seen active soldiers, police officers and teachers abandoning their posts to take chance with the risky high seas.

We may never be able to stop the Back Way venture for ambitious, unemployed youth would always pursue opportunity somewhere whatever the risk. But had we had a capable, effective and responsible government they would have:

  • Put mechanisms in place to mitigate it by not only going on TV to boast about opening schools but not able to get graduates absorbed in the workforce.
  •   Be able to open skill centers to train the youth and have careers.
  • Liberalize the economy, support and encourage small scale businesses by giving tax breaks and/or subsidize them to be able to flourish and create employment.
  •  Let the president cease competing with the State and private businessmen as the conflict of interest and competitive advantage is killing the already struggling Gambians.
  •  Let’s mechanize our Agriculture with adequate focus by revitalizing Jahali Pacharr and other places it instead of Yaya grabbing all arable lands and have the whole country work on his farms.
  • Bring back our one-time Tourist Mecca that he’d killed off with his weekly distasteful international headlines that instills fear and erode confidence for tourists.

Evidently, these are not things that President Jammeh and his administration are capable of doing. That leaves us with one remedy for the hand that we’re dealt: CHANGE OF REGIME! Yaya Jammeh and the APRC administration are a bad omen for our nation and they’d have to GO for us to make any significant headway!

Lets continue to sensitize and dissuade our brothers the best we could. The Gambian Artist Bro K has a very messageful song on the ‘Back Way‘.

Good Morning And Peace To The Planet!

Ya Binta’s Death Could Have Been Avoided

April 22, 2015
Reads :730
Author: Sainey Sisay

Author: Sainey Sisay

By Sainey Sisay

The recent reported killing by the Gambian Security Forces of an innocent Gambian citizen called  Ya Binta Jarju, had left me wondering whether our security forces are really aware of their duties and responsibilities to our civilian population. There is no doubt in my mind that the role of every national security force is to provide security to its citizens and properties. 

However, if a national security force turns against the very people, they took the oath to protect, then one wonders whether that force can be called or described as a national security force. In essence the Gambian security forces are professionally handicapped.

Our national security forces are becoming very indiscipline, unprofessional and above all arrogant especially when armed. The fear they instilled in the Gambia has resulted to an environment of paranoia and mistrust between the security forces and the ordinary citizens.

The death of Ya Binta Jarju could have been avoided if the security forces in question had exercised patience and professionalism.  Firstly, the security personnel could have taken the registration number of the car or the description of it. This information would have been enough for the authorities to know and identify the driver of the car, who failed to stop at the military checkpoint. Secondly, they could have stopped  the car by shooting at its tyres, which would force the driver to stop. What happened on that fateful day begs the question of; are those entrusted with out security  trained enough to  make rational judgements especially when armed? I bet not.

They are  expected to exercise GREAT RESTRAINT when armed. This is because of the lethal consequences of their weapons.  However, it is irrational and arrogant, if they think that because they are soldiers and armed, none has right to disobey them. This should not be the case, since even God is disobeyed by others. Therefore, they should detach themselves from the self illusion that being soldiers entitles them to shoot anyone who disobeys them.

They should remember their first duty is to protect the civilian population. They can only go against that duty  if their lives are threatened. In this case Ya Binta Jarju and the Taxi Driver didn’t pose any threat that warrant the callous murder of the former, an innocent young lady with great potentials.

Finally there needs to be a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the young lady’s brutal murder without such an investigation public confidence in the integrity of our government will continue to ebb away. We need a proper scrutiny and accountability of our security forces to restore public confidence.