Archive for the ‘News’ Category


November 27, 2015
Jammeh proclaimed that FGM is banned in Gambia but should he trusted?

Jammeh proclaimed that FGM is banned in Gambia but should he trusted?

Since President Jammeh made the announcement on Monday, one media outlet has particularly trumpeted this victory. Anti-FGM groups, which have done tremendous work by providing a much-needed voice and care to victims have also praised the decision while highlighting their own involvement. Interestingly, international journalists have left out the fact that local media in The Gambia have been silent. Why? Because a free press is nonexistent, and most of the country’s independent journalists have either been killed by the Jammeh regime, live in exile, or are currently languishing in prison.

Lost in all the celebrations, particularly on social media, is the fact that FGM is not banned in The Gambia, at least not yet. There is no enforceable law on the books. And recall that Jammeh is prone to making outlandish, bizarre, and one-off statements. The last time Jammeh actually lived up to a promise was when he publicly vowed to summarily execute death row inmates, which was  carried out in August 2012.

Also missing from the articles that highlight Gambia’s supposed ban on FGM is that Jammeh is likely only trying to improve his country’s image. Soon, the European Union will decide the fate of a multi-million dollar aid package that was initially suspended due to increasing human rights concerns. The Gambia’s treasury is broke and Jammeh needs all the assistance he can possibly muster.

In regards to The Gambia, observers often have a hard time understanding how utterly deplorable the situation truly is, and human rights violations there go unreported, or at best underreported. At the same time of the FGM announcement, for instance, 33 activists protesting illegal sand mining in their community were detained, allegedly tortured, and are now being held at the country’s Mile 2 maximum security prison. This incident has thus far failed to make the pages of any international media outlet.

As a human rights activist, I strongly encourage celebrating small victories – it undoubtedly helps to keep us sane – and the announced ban on FGM is surely one of them. However, given Jammeh’s track record of abuse and erratic behavior, let us hold off on popping the champagne until this “ban” amounts to more than just rhetoric.

By Jeffrey Smith                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights


November 25, 2015
Kartong' Youth during previous mining protests

Kartong’ Youth during previous mining protests

Gambia Youth for Unity (GYU) is deeply concerned and condemns the arrest of over forty youths from Kartong, West Coast Region including women and children. “We condemn unethical mining taking place in Kartong and we call on the Gambian authorities to halt mining operations and release the detained youths whose action shows that they were merely protecting their lands from illegal mining,” said Omar Bah, GYU Chair.

 On November 20th, a Gambian local newspaper Foroyaa issued a story headlined “Kartong Community questions the benefit of heavy metal mining”. The aggrieved youths from Kartong visited Foroyaa to lodge a complaint, questioning the benefit of mineral mining in their community. According to one of the complainant, it’s alleged that the mining activities have resulted to the death of a 12 year old boy. “A 12 year boy in grade 6, drowned in one of the pits on the day after the Muslim feast of ‘Tobaski’.” Mineral mining has not only resulted in loss of life but is also threatening agricultural production and the pits have cultivated an infestation of mosquitoes in the community.

 According to media reports, the youths of Kartong have been protesting against mineral mining for the past three weeks. On November 22nd, reports indicated that a large gathering of villagers came out to protest against mineral miners. Kartong is located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and is famous for its tourism, fishing and rich ecosystems. Mineral mining has threatened the livelihood of the villagers and their community by increasing the rate of soil erosion and sea encroachment. Several metric tons are mined from the village each week over the past six to seven years.

 The events of November 22nd resulted in a standoff between youths of Kartong and security forces. This ultimately saw scores of youths arrested for exercising their fundamental rights. GYU therefore calls for calm and specifically to Gambian security forces to release all youths arrested for merely exercising their constitutional right, by protesting against mineral mining. As a youth movement we feel compelled to stand up and condemn the unconstitutional arrest of such environmentally responsible youths who should not be subject to illegal arrest and abuse from security forces sworn to protect them.


November 24, 2015
A mining site- photo courtesy of foroyaa

A mining site- photo courtesy of foroyaa

The youth of kartong in the begining this month gathered at the youth premises to protest against illegal sand mining. Sand mining is not a new thing in kartong, it has been occurring since in the 90s but its benefit to the natives is virtually nothing. The concerned youths show this as something very much destructive to their community. The youth in their numbers turned out when the news broke out that there are people who are about to restart the heinous act of mining again. It could be recalled that a grade 6 student drowned in that quarry on the second day of Tobaski this year, an incident that left many kartongkas regretful of not taking necessary measures to stop mining in their beloved community.

During the Friday night gathering, discussion were mainly focused on how to solve this mining issue peacefully. The meeting was successful and steps were taking to end this mining. We lost all our beautiful vegetation, lamented an environmentalist Mr sulayman Manneh. Our father’s fought hard to safe our surrounding he further reminded the people to be responsible of their actions.

Mr Modou lamin Manneh who also expressed his dissatisfaction on the sand mining said, Sand mining brought no benefits to us. The miners never fulfilled their promise with the community. They also failed to honour the agreement which states that they should mine only one meter deep and they must replace the sand mine after the end of the contract. But sadly all this promise were not fulfilled he further commented. Habibu Touray who was among the front liners of this youth protest also lamented on the destructions and effects of these sand mining to the people of kartong. Kartong never experience mosquitoes after the raining season but now after the mining the mosquitoes are always around.

Ousman Jabang, Musa Cham, Bambo Touray and Amadou Jarju all expressed similar sentiments. Petition was signed by the youths against the mining. The youths posted the banners on their taxes to express their anger. We have all the rights to protect our environment and we will defend it peacefully to the core . We cannot tolerate any more untimely deaths of our children caused by the destructive mining.



November 21, 2015
Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda scolded by the ICC

Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda scolded by the ICC

Dictator Jammeh Bensouda's former boss

Dictator Jammeh Bensouda’s former boss

Just seven months after her decision to close down files on criminal investigations of war crimes allegations on Israel Defence Force(IDF) personnel’s attack on 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident, chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda was ordered by the International Criminal Court on a Thursday in a shocking 2-1 decision, to consider opening a full criminal investigation into the war crimes allegations against IDF. Using rather harsh language, the ICC told Chief prosecutor Bensouda she should have considered more seriously the possibility that the deaths of those killed by the IDF in the incident were “systematic or resulted from a deliberate plan or policy to attack, kill or injure civilians.”

The decision puts the ICC the closest it has ever been to intervening directly in the Israeli-Arab conflict and places the court in the position of potentially being harsher on Israel than Fatou Bensouda intended and despite her softer approach to Israel’s actions, Chief Prosecutor Bensouda herself has been criticized by Israel for recognizing the State of Palestine.

It all started when a case was brought against Israel after an attack by its Defence Forces on the so-called ‘Freedom Flotilla’ ships, which were sailing to Gaza from Istanbul and Greece in support of Palestinian settlements. The long-fought legal battle was focused on the ‘Mavi Marmara’ ship – the head civilian vessel among a fleet carrying humanitarian aid in an attempt to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. In the attack, over ten people on various ships were killed and the situation was referred to the International Criminal Court by the Union of the Comoros – as the Mavi Marmara sailed under its flag. In November 2014, after concluding her preliminary examination, Prosecutor Bensouda announced to the World that there would be no investigation into the situation. She argued that there was a lack of ‘gravity’ and that the case didn’t reach the threshold to be investigated. But she came under heavy fire from many human rights activists and families of those killed in the attack and a mounting campaign began for the reopening of the investigation leading the ICC with no options but to look into the matter more closely.

After the order by the ICC to reopen investigations, a court in Spain had ordered the arrest of the Israeli prime minister and six other Israel government officials should they enter Spain. A Spanish judge issued warrants for their arrest meaning Benjamin Netanyahu would be detained by police over a case against him regarding the famed ‘Freedom Flotilla’ attack that took place in 2010.

The Spanish judge Jose de la Mata ordered both the police and guardía to notify him should Netanyahu or one of six other Israeli officials cross Spain’s border. Others named in the legal battle include former Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman, ex-Defence Minister Ehud Barak, former Interior Minister Eli Yishai, former Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon, Minister without Portfolio Benny Begin and Vice-Admiral Maron Eliezer.Nine activists were killed in the incident in which the ship was stormed by IDF personnel. A tenth campaigner later died due to injuries sustained in the raid.

Netanyahu, prime minister during the Israeli counter-operation, now faces charges in the case which would have been closed down had Fatou Bensouda had her way despite ten lives were lost. An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman confirmed to the Jerusalem Post that diplomatic pressure was being exerted to quash the arrest warrant for Netanyahu. They said: “We consider it to be a provocation. We are working with the Spanish authorities to get it cancelled. We hope it will be over soon.”


November 20, 2015
 Secretary General Lamin Nyabally dismissed and disgraced

Secretary General Lamin Nyabally dismissed and disgraced

Kibaaro News has received unimpeachable information that the Gambian dictator; Yahya Jammeh has fired his Secretary General and Presidential Affairs Minister, Mr. Lamin Nyabally yesterday Thursday 19th November 2015 while on his presidential tour in the Upper River town of Basse. According to information received by this medium, President Jammeh was not happy with the way health issues are handled in Basse and its surroundings and he kept asking his secretary general Nyabally how comes he was never briefed by him on such issues. The President was said to have blamed Nyabally for his incompetence and without a second thought, he was fired from his post as Secretary General and Minister for Presidential Affairs. After Health Minister Omar Sey informed the seriously ill President that he did discuss the issue with Secretary General Nyabally, but no action was taken since then.

The President was reported to have been very angry and the anger landed Secretary Nyabally into the presidential hot water and before the end of the inauguration of a thirty million dalasi health centre in Sabi village near the town of Basse, Nyabally was fired publicly by his boss and told to make sure he clears his desk within 24 hours. The President did said Nyabally was very lucky that he the President is in a happy mood thanks to as according to him the warm welcome he received from the people of URR otherwise he was going to the hotel. Ex Secretary General Nyabally was seen shaking and sweating continuously thanking the President like a lame duck about to be sacrificed but the owner changed his mind. Our sources did indicated that he Nyabally still retains the forestry ministerial portfolio but his rank within the Jammeh highrachy was lowered beyond belief and many confidently continue speculating that Nyabally would not serve another year before his final engagement with the electric broom. Either the hotel or the streets is anyone’s guess. At the time of going to press, Nyabally was said to have rushed to Banjul to clear his desk as instructed and is later expected to rejoin the Presidential tour today.


November 19, 2015
Magistrate Ebrima Jaiteh unconstitutioanlly dismissed from the judiciary

Magistrate Ebrima Jaiteh unconstitutioanlly dismissed from the judiciary

From whatever perspective, it is perverse, absolutely wrong on all fronts, and an assault on the principle of judicial independence as that doctrine is ordinarily understood in any country whose public life is grounded in democratic institutionalism under the rule of law.

At paragraph 6 of the preamble of the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia (the Constitution) the claim is advanced that “the functions of the arms of government have been clearly defined, their independence amply secured with adequate checks and balances …”. At substantive sections of the Constitution, similar and more specific claims are made about the operational independence of the courts. These claims are false and utterly nonsensical, not only because of how the Executive routinely nullifies Constitutional protections, but more fundamentally because of the deep architectural flaws embedded in our supreme document.

Undoubtedly, the Constitution permits the legal mismanagement of Gambian public life. With its hollow protections, it would still be an instrument of violence, if only potentially, even in the most benign of hands. As they say, the courts are placed in between ‘the rock and hard place’. This is perilous for Gambian public life!

There is no question that great decisions worthy of celebration emanate from individual members of the bench from time to time. As an institution, the judiciary – and by extension the courts – is far from independent even in that sacrosanct domain of operational matters. To be efficacious, the rule of law must be systemic, not individual. In a largely arbitrary public terrain, judicial officers must be shielded from even the threat of Executive reprisals.

In a country where high flying intellectuals and economically successfully middle class individuals toy with the false and rubbish notion of total disinterest in seminal public questions – politics, in short – it is not a compelling contention to expect that judicial officers must consistently remain the foremost exemplars of rectitude as if they live outside the ambit of human frailties, failings and concerns. When tragedy strikes, the brave and consistent adherent to the rule of law would be left to his own devices, to pick up the pieces, so to say, and negotiate his way around the powerful landmines of Gambian public life. Major assaults on what remain of the very fragile systemic integrity of Gambian polity passed into the annals of our public intercourse as a matter of course.

On 06 November 2015, His Worship Ebrima Jaiteh, of Brikama Magistrates’ Court, was arrested and detained at the Serious Crime Unit of Police Headquarters in Banjul. As of 1400 hours 09 November, he was still detained. His ‘serious crime’ was to terminate, on perfectly legitimate jurisdictional grounds, the case of Inspector General of Police v Saikou Conteh, and Kebba Conteh, Brk/Criminal Case No:90/13. The alleged offence at the heart of this particular prosecution occurred at Sukuta, Kombo North, West Coast Region.

Although Sukuta is politically and administratively under the purview of the West Coast Region, Brikama Magistrates’ Court can no longer exercise jurisdiction over cases from this sprawling community. By the Bundung Magistrates’ Court (Constitution) Order1997, issued under Legal Notice No. 3 of 1997, “… the Brikama Magistrates’ Court shall cease to have jurisdiction …” over “Sukuta, Sukuta Sanchaba …”. Avoiding the futile exercise of presiding over a nullity, His Worship Jaiteh ultimately struck out this particular case for lack of jurisdiction and discharged the accused persons “with immediate effect”. It is instructive to note that this case commenced more than two years ago and for whatever reason remains undecided as of 29 October when His Worship Jaiteh terminated it on jurisdictional grounds. The IGP is free to reinstitute proceedings in light of the fact that the accused persons were merely discharged!

Instead of consulting with its legal advisers, the Executive simply invoked its police powers, completely unlawfully, by ordering the arrest of His Worship Jaiteh. For more than the Constitutional limit of 72 hours, he remained unlawfully detained even after a meeting with the Inspector General of Police (IGP) a few hours before the expiry of that time limit.

If my information is correct, and I have no reason to doubt it, His Worship Jaiteh is charged with neglect of duty and already appeared at the Brikama Magistrates’ Court, his place of work over the last seven months to answer the charge. Unless sense and legality prevails in Executive councils, his current judicial career may be regarded as virtually over, a big loss to Gambia for a magistrate so competent and productive, both intellectually and operationally. His sittings routinely commence as early as 0900, and almost always by 0930, and his decisions, as expected, are always reasoned.

The courts have an inbuilt checks and balances system via the general appellate mechanism. If the State was aggrieved by His Worship Jaiteh’s judicial decision, the lawful route of getting redress is to trigger the general accountability system of appeal by going to the High Court. On the facts, the Executive probably feels too big for that cumbersome process it sees as the puny citizen’s avenue for resolving public disputes. This mentality is perilous for the overall polity, including for the Executive itself.

With an IGP who is reportedly legally trained, and an Attorney General (AG) with many years standing as a Barrister, why was His Worship Jaiteh ever arrested over such a non-issue? Are these holders of high public office not aware that their employer has no legal permission to dance in such a prohibited public space? The courts are a judicial dancehall, not a playground for arbitrary Executive directives. If the Executive does not recognise this sacrosanct principle, the IGP, and the AG, are better off thinking about alternative avenues for paying for their livelihoods.

When he appeared at Brikama Magistrates’ Court, His Worship Jaiteh’s case was reportedly heard ‘in camera’, i.e., behind closed doors. There was no legal basis for this as the Constitution, at section 24(2), mandates that: “All proceedings of every court and proceedings relating to the determination of the existence or extent of civil rights or obligations before any other authority, including the announcement of the decision of the court or other authority, shall be held in public”. The proviso to this section has no application to His Worship Jaiteh’s case. His arrest and detention was widely reported and publicly discussed. It was fully in the public domain!

For present purposes, why should another magistrate be handed a ‘poisoned chalice’? Why should another judicial career be destroyed in making a magistrate preside over a baseless case fraught with such explosive political undertones? Due to the inherent unsoundness of the allegation against His Worship Jaiteh, this is a lose-lose situation for any magistrate who presides over the matter in that he would either be fired by the Executive, or his professional and general reputation would be in such tatters he would be effectively redundant. His judicial decisions may henceforth command no respect! It is both legally and morally wrong to assign this case to any magistrate.

Why are we in such a monstrous situation, and why do I contend that a magistrate could be fired for presiding over this baseless if politically-charged case?

As a national document, it is disturbing that the Constitution embodies immense potential for violence against the citizen, and of stalemate and paralysis in governance. A crisis, any crisis is therefore only solvable via the agency of raw power, not through the more sublime avenues of political and legal negotiation in a public environment equally responsive to the legitimate needs of all its members. Unquestionably, the Judiciary is a victim of the legal centralization of national power in the Executive. By section 141 (2)(c) of the Constitution, “a judge of a Superior Court … may have his or her appointment terminated by the President in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission” (JSC).

To appreciate the subtle if legal subjugation of the Judiciary, to the Executive, it is vital to disentangle the architecture of the management structure at the former. At section 138(1) of the Constitution, the President has the legal authority to appoint the Chief Justice “after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission”. Second only to the Chief Justice in the administrative hierarchy is the Judicial Secretary, “who shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the JSC” (section 143(3)).

What is the basic appointing criteria regarding Superior Court judges other than the Chief Justice? Committed to leaving nothing to chance, the Constitution provides an explicit answer. “All other judges of the Superior Courts except the judges of the Special Criminal Court shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the JSC” (section 138(2)).

Considering the ostensibly heavy consultation the President must engage in with the JSC in the appointing process of Superior Court Judges, and the Judicial Secretary, it is imperative that the composition of this central body on judicial appointment be properly scrutinised. In both appointments to, and removals from, the JSC, the President is the predominant player. “The members of the Commission, other than the members referred to in subsection (a) and (f), shall be appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice and subject to confirmation by the National Assembly” (section 145(2)).

Continuing with 145(6), there is yet again a clear demonstration of the President’s stranglehold over the JSC. A member can be removed “for any other cause”! In reality, there is no ex officio member of the JSC considering that even the representative of the Bar must be nominated by the Attorney General, a Cabinet appointee who holds her position at the exclusive pleasure of the President.

As for the member of the JSC to be “nominated by the National Assembly”, the Speaker, a Presidential appointee who heads the Legislature, is duty-bound to facilitate that transaction. For any Party member of the National Assembly thinking of opposing the President’s choice for membership of the JSC, there is the threat of expulsion, and the small matter of 91(1)(d) of the Constitution to exercise a sobering restraint on any potential wild journey from sheepish compliance with “orders from above”, a widely appreciated euphemism for Presidential directives outside the ambit of lawful commands. As for JSC members coming under sub-sections (a), (b), (c), and (e), of section 145, the President has undiluted power over their fate.

No sensible system can so thoroughly subject the Judiciary to such total control by the Executive! Clearly, our 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. I accept that 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, a leading proponent of American 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”.

Even without its inbuilt distortions, and regardless of how beautifully crafted and balanced, a Constitution that will continue to be either differentially applied, or not applied at all, presents a profound challenge to national cohesion and survival in that it serves the interest of a fraction of the overall polity, in this case the Executive. “At the heart of any failed state is a constitution that is not performing – either because the balances its drafters struck between competing demands on the document were wrong, or because the machinery, will and resources to make it work are woefully inadequate” (The Gazette 2012).

With all its flaws, the Constitution remains the supreme law of The Gambia. Poignantly, it also speaks directly to His Worship Jaiteh’s current difficulties. “In the exercise of their judicial functions, the courts, the judges and other holders of judicial office shall be independent and shall be subject only to this Constitution and the law and, except as provided in this Chapter, shall not be subject to the control or direction of any other person or authority” (section 120(3). Even on doctrinal considerations alone, the principle enunciated in section 120(3) is unassailable. The arrest, detention, and reported prosecution of His Worship Jaiteh triggered by Executive fiat are completely unlawful. Although apparently speaking in the language of civil process, the Constitution grants express immunity to a magistrate acting judicially from all process, civil or criminal. “A judge or other person exercising power shall not be liable to any action or suit for any act or omission by him or her in good faith in the exercise of his or her judicial function” (section 123). His Worship Jaiteh acted properly in terminating – on legitimate jurisdictional grounds – the further proceeding of IGP v Saikou Conteh, and Kebba Conteh, at Brikama Magistrates’ Court. Bundung Magistrates’ Court is the proper venue!

There is widespread public sympathy for His Worship Jaiteh but alongside this sympathy is palpable fear for position, for freedom, for life. In a way fear pervades the fabric of Gambian public life, and fear is a legitimate and agonising human concern. A few days ago, a fellow traveller in the world of ideas sent me Dictator, the very latest Robert Harris book on ancient Rome. At page 436, timeless wisdom on the inevitable if paralysing ultimate reason for being fearful: At first I thought I would never recover from Cicero’s death. But time wipes out everything, even grief. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that grief is almost entirely a question of perspective. For the first few years I used to sigh and think, ‘Well, he would still be in his sixties now,’ and then a decade later, with surprise, ‘My goodness, he would be seventy five,’ but nowadays I think, ‘well, he would be long since dead in any case, so what does it matter how he died in comparison with how he lived?’.

Students both of history and contemporary affairs would have recognised the futility of managing a country’s public life by force and fear. It is like the proverbial collapsing of the support of the sky. Everyone suffers. And for those who are disinterested in politics, and are busy accumulating wealth and the purely epicurean pursuits of life, I counsel that you look around the world for your timeless lessons. Ask the formerly untouchable, and, or, indifferent of Libya, of Iraq, of Syria, of Liberia, of Sierra Leone, others. Politics encompasses and reaches into every aspect of life.

However viewed, His Worship Jaiteh’s arrest, detention, and prosecution is an assault on his human rights and dignity, a glaring abuse of Gambian judicial process, a perversion of the rule of law, an affront to the principle of judicial independence.

I condemn it unreservedly!

As our able magistrates’ would say at the end of their rulings or judgments, ‘this is my perspective’ on the disgraceful saga of an exemplary judicial officer, His Worship Jaiteh!

Lamin J Darbo


November 17, 2015
Alhagie Juwara - His Family is seaching for Him

Alhagie Juwara- Family ardently searching for him

The family of a 23yr old Alhagie Juwara are on an ardent search for their loved one. Alhagie Juwara hailed from Badibu Sanjal Kani Kunda in the North Bank Region of the Gambia. Information we have gathered from his family buttressed that the young man ventured on the “back way” Journey to Europe. They were reliably informed that Alhagie made it as far as Libya but the family is yet to hear from him after a very long period. Prior to adventuring into the journey to Europe he is said to have been enrolled at a local Quranic school at Sanjal Kani Kunda.

His immediate family was not aware when he took off but they got tipped off that it is the Quranic teacher who was entrusted with the education of their beloved who has masterminded the sudden travel of the young man. His mother, Makaba Juwara is deeply worried about what might have happened to her son. The family is therefore appealing to the general public for information on the where about of Alhagie Juwara. Anyone who has information that can help trace the young man is kindly urged to contact Maimuna Kanyi on; mobil: 0044786365091 email: People can also contact kibaaro news or any of the Gambia media houses.