The European Union HQ are currently on an election exploratory mission in The Gambia. The purpose of this Mission is to collect factual information on the pre-electoral situation based on a wide range of meetings with both government and non-governmental stakeholders.
The ExM will be conducted in line with EU methodology to assess whether conditions are met for the deployment of an EU EOM for the upcoming general elections, should the Gambian authorities confirm formally their request for electoral observation. The Exploratory Mission will be headed by Julia Ruppel from the Democracy and Electoral Observation Division of the EEAS and will also comprise Ioannis Kleisiaris, European Commission/FPI, Programme Manager/Election Observation. They will be accompanied by four external experts.
The Exploratory Mission will tomorrow Thursday, at 16.40 meet the media in the conference room of the EU Delegation to discuss the role of the media and communication/public utilities management on and around election day.
By Bruce Asemota
The contempt trial against the alkalo of Duwasu, Yaya Nyassi, and co-defendant ex-president Yahya Jammeh, commenced yesterday before Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the High Court in Banjul.
Jammeh was the 2nd defendant in the civil suit by one Gibi Bah of 16 Ranking Street in Banjul against Yaya Nyassi, alkalo of Duwasu village in the Kombo East District of West Coast Region.
However, former president Yahya Jammeh was later removed from the suit after the writ of summons expired because the former president could not be served in Equatorial Guinea.
The High Court had made an interim injunction restraining the alkalo of Duwasu, Yaya Nyassi, his servants, villagers, workmen, collaborators from entering, working on, putting anything on/ trespassing on a suit land in Duwasu village.
The plaintiff, Gibi Bah, the administrator of Yerro Bah (deceased) estate and Alagie Pateh Bah brought a contempt proceeding against Yaya Nyassi to explain why he should not be punished for disobeying a court order made on the 16th December, 2019.
During yesterday’s sitting, Gibi Bah mounted the witness box and gave evidence in chief where he testified that Yaya Nyassi had disobeyed the lawful orders of the court.
Meanwhile, the matter was adjourned to 13th July, 2021.
By Omar Bah
The Minister of Justice has disclosed that the government is putting in place appropriate mechanisms to prosecute perpetrators of crimes under former president Yahya Jammeh.
Addressing a regional conference on the domestication of atrocity prevention norms at the state level, Dawda Jallow whose statement was read by the Solicitor General, said: “Considerations are currently underway with regard to the appropriate mechanism to deploy for the prosecution of crimes that have occurred given that most of the offences disclosed are not known under our criminal law”.
The conference, which is currently underway at the Senegambia hotel, is organised by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in partnership with the Government of Denmark.
AG Jallow said his ministry will look forward to the recommendations from the regional conference.
“As far as Africa is concerned, the international criminal court is to date the only functional mechanism to try international crimes. However,
the trial of Hissene Habre has strengthened the case for a regional court in Africa to deal with international crimes,” the Minister said.
“Domestic prosecution of international crimes is quite complex. Effective prosecution at the domestic level requires qualified investigators and prosecutors as well as judges and most significantly an appropriate tribunal for the conduct of such prosecutions,” he said.
Seeing Ka, a representative from Ecowas said the humanitarian situation in the region continues to look bleak, as the perennial conflicts in the region, including insurgencies, the persistent threat of terrorism in the “front-line” countries, continue to worsen.
“In addition, poverty, food insecurity, malnutrition, diminishing natural resources triggered by climate change effects and recurrent natural disasters such as the floods experienced in 2020 are factors fostering vulnerability and putting millions of people at risk in the region,” Ka said.
The Danish ambassador to Ghana, Tom Norring, said The Gambia has set new standards by bringing the atrocities committed by the military in Myanmar before the ICC.
“While this ICJ case for technical reasons is limited to the crime of genocide and to one specific victim group (that of the Rohingya), the lawsuit sends an important message about accountability,” he said.
The commandant of the Kofi Annan International Peace training centre, Major General Francis Ofori, said: “The Kofi Annan Centre continues to push the frontiers of prevention through our empirical research, and capacity building of all actors including military, police, the judiciary, legislature and all key civil society stakeholders to better appreciate and apply the principles of the R2P norm”.
“Although your first responsibility is to prevent atrocities in your states, collectively we need to coordinate efforts of all states to make a difference to protect lives,” he said.
Based in Ghana, the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre provides training and research in peacekeeping and peace operations.
By Omar Bah
The Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) has intensified efforts to secure Gambia’s accession to the International Convention on the simplification and harmonization of customs procedures.
The Gambia ratified the Convention in 1974 almost a year of its coming into force. But the West African country is among few nations yet to accede to the 2006 revised Kyoto Convention.
The tax authority has instituted a taskforce consisting of the Office of the President, ministries of Trade, Justice, Finance and Foreign Affairs and the National Assembly. The high-profile taskforce will guide and facilitate the country’s accession to the Kyoto Convention.
The Kyoto Convention is the blueprint for modern and efficient customs procedures in the 21st century.
The Convention focuses on transparency and predictability of customs actions; standardization and simplification of the goods declaration and supporting documents; simplified procedures for authorized persons; maximum use of information technology; minimum necessary customs control to ensure compliance with regulations.
The revised Kyoto Convention also promotes trade facilitation and effective controls through its legal provisions that detail the application of simple yet efficient procedures.
It also contains new and obligatory rules for its application, which all contracting parties must accept without reservation. The revised Kyoto Convention entered into force on February 3, 2006.
As part of efforts to expedite the country’s accession to Kyoto Convention, GRA organised a stepdown workshop for its senior officials to assist them analyse the country’s customs laws compared to other countries around the world.
The workshop also gives participants the opportunity to answer questions prepared by the World Customs Officers (WCO) relating to gaps in operations.
The GRA commissioner general, Yankuba Darboe said: “The purpose of organising this workshop is to take stock of the progress that has been made in our bid to complete The Gambia’s accession to the Revised Kyoto Convention as well as designing the roadmap for the completion of the accession process”.
“However, since the entry into force of the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) in 2006, The Gambia remains one of the few countries yet to ratify the Convention despite the numerous benefits that can be derived from ratifying the Convention. The WCO did not shy away from reminding us about this fact any time we attend meetings at the WCO headquarters in Brussels,” he said.
The GRA management, he added, is determined to end this undesirable state of affair.
“In a bid to speed up the accession process, we set up a Steering Committee in 2019 to kick start the accession process. Since its setting up, the RKC Committee has engaged the relevant stakeholders in the process and together designed a roadmap for the process,” he added.
“Acceding to the RKC will no doubt improve and enhance trade facilitation; provide international trade with predictability and efficiency that it requires and it will lay a solid foundation for reforming and strengthening our Customs legislations and standardising them with WCO best practice,” CG Darboe said.
He extolled Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), for funding the workshop.
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is a non-ministerial department of the UK Government responsible for the collection of taxes, the payment of some forms of state support, the administration of other regulatory regimes including the national minimum wage and the issuance of national insurance numbers.
By Tabora Bojang & Mariama Jallow
The National Assembly yesterday officially declared two sitting legislators expelled by the opposition Gambia Democratic Congress as independent. It comes after the party wrote to the clerk of the National Assembly informing the House of its decision to expel Salifu Jawo of Jokadu and Kebba Jallow of Jarra Central.
The party accused the lawmakers of being unpatriotic over their alleged shifting of allegiance to President Adama Barrow, an archrival of GDC leader Mamma Kandeh.
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Mariam Jack-Denton, said the Assembly accepted the party’s communiqué on the two expulsions.
She informed the expelled lawmakers that their seating arrangements will henceforth be changed to distinguish them from GDC to independent National Assembly Members.
Shortly after the session, one of the expelled NAMs, now independent Salifu Jawo, renewed his criticism of the GDC leader Mamma Kandeh, accusing him of interference in his parliamentary work.
“I don’t care about Mamma Kandeh. I only care about the people of Jokadu whom I am representing here in Parliament,” Jawo stated.
He warned that the GDC will die a natural death over what he called “mass defections of supporters” because Kandeh is “not leading” as expected. “He [Kandeh] is going to see fire in the coming elections,” Jawo warned. Also commenting on the matter, Kebba Jallow of Jarra Central said the expulsion did not come as a surprise, likening Kandeh’s leadership style to former president Jammeh’s “dictatorship.”
“I have always been attributed to be supporting development programmes brought to the House which the GDC considers as President Adama Barrow’s development agenda, not knowing members are free from party affiliation when debating on national issues. We are here to represent all Gambians, not one party’s agenda,” he stated.
By Lamin Cham
The Standard has been reliably informed that the planned renaming of the Arch 22 to the Memorial Arch has been put on hold. The initiative to rename the edifice, located right at the entrance of the capital, was started by the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission which involved the National Center for Arts and Culture, Civil Society Organizations, the Banjul City Council among others in its coordinating committee.
The event was scheduled for June 28 when the Arch would be renamed Memorial Arch where victims of the Jammeh regime would have their names and or pictures displayed for posterity.
However soon after The Standard published a report of the planned event, this paper got reliable information that the event has now been put on hold on the advice of the Ministry of Justice.
The Standard contacted the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Dawda Jallow who confirmed that his ministry had called the TRRC to put the process on hold. Asked what led to that, the AG alleged that the Ministry of Justice as the line ministry for the TRRC was not consulted. “Everything about the TRRC is channeled through us as the line ministry. Surprisingly on this particular issue, I only saw it in your newspaper. We were not in the picture. So, I had to call them and say that renaming a major national asset like that and for a decision like that for the TRRC to be working with whoever they are working with to rename that, the ministry should not be unaware of it and our findings revealed that there are laid down rules for all these renamings that happened which include going to cabinet to seek approval and things like that. That did not happen in this case. Even the honour has not been extended to the president. The president is not even aware. We all saw it in the newspaper on Monday. So of course, it cannot proceed and we had to tell them that if they want to do that, they would have to officially write to the Ministry requesting for it. Though they told me they are working with the NCAC which the facility is under, but either way, you cannot leave the line ministry out. So that’s why it cannot proceed,” the Attorney General argued. He said even the date proposed, June 28 would not meet the president and himself in town [away in Saudi Arabia].
The minister however further stated that the TRRC had an option anyway to include this proposal in their recommendation and it would then be considered along with other recommendations.
The Standard then contacted the director of communications at the TRRC, Essa Jallow who said as far as this matter is concerned, the TRRC has done all what it needed to do about this, such as informing all stake-holders. He continued: “We have informed our line ministry- Justice and also the Ministry of Tourism. “An aide-memoire was written to them all, including even BCC and also an MoU was signed between the commission and the NCAC. So, if the information did not get to Barrow, that would not be our problem because we do not directly correspond with the president. And in any case, Government can be represented by another official or officials,” Essa Jallow said.
By Tabora Bojang
Former police commissioner for URR Famara Jallow, has told the National Assembly Public Petition Committee that he has declined a request by the late former Inspector General of Police Mamour Jobe when rustling of cattle and other ruminants continue to surge in the area.
The committee is currently probing allegations by Wuli East natives who petitioned the National Assembly to investigate police reluctance to stop animal theft in the area.
The natives lamented in their petition that the inaction of the police after several complaints and apprehension of suspected criminals from Senegal and other parts of the country has led to the formation of a vigilante group consisting hundreds of youth to fend off the menace.
Commissioner Jallow who served as URR police commissioner until his redeployment to West Coast Region in 2018, made this disclosure in reference to claims by the current URR commissioner Omar Darboe who claims that cattle theft in the area was perennial and none of his predecessors was able to fully resolve it.
“If Commissioner Darboe is saying such, I think he has made a mistake because recently there have been so many delegations coming to Police headquarters asking for my return to Basse because the criminal activities are getting too much. A delegation led by a minister visited the office of the late IGP, but when he called me, I insisted that I am not going. I informed him that if he [IGP] forced me to accept the request I was going to resign. And that is what I was going to do! I am the most senior police commissioner in the country, there are junior commissioners to be sent far in the provinces,” commissioner Jallow said.
He said during his time as the regional police chief, he strived to bring an end to a myriad of criminal activities in the Basse region, making him the “most feared.”
“I know how to deal with a criminal. The last time it was announced that I was returning to Basse, all the criminals ran to the border to wait for confirmation,” he claimed.
Commissioner Jallow further told the probing lawmakers that he believes a good leader ought to be feared even at the family level; “if that fear is not there it means you are meaningless in the compound”.
The petitioners had also claimed that one Amadou Gajigo, a businessman from Sara Bugu and Alhagie Ceesay a butcher from Basse, are the principal masterminds in orchestrating cattle thievery in the region, adding that they will supply meat to the police officers in the region.
They allege that Mr Gajigo has been living in a highly fenced compound where he slaughters stolen animals during the nights, but each time his cases are reported, the police will do nothing about it since he “continually bribes” them with meat.
But responding to these claims, commissioner Jallow said he does not know any butcher in Basse; “I have nothing to do with them because If they give you meat they will go and rob people and expect you to pardon them. There are some people putting on the uniform but accidently they don’t like the job, they are only waiting for salary, dragging their feet. But if that was not the case at the level of a Station Officer, an ASP, you should be able to investigate and do the right thing,” he stated.
By Tabora Bojang
The National Assembly has resolved to summon the Minister of Fisheries and Water Resources James Gomez over the mass wastage of fish resources across the coastal areas of The Gambia.
The motion to summon the minister was tabled by the National Assembly Member for Banjul South, Touma Njai in line with the Standing Orders of the Assembly.
According to the Banjul lawmaker, her motion is necessitated by the indiscriminate exploitation of the country’s main source of protein informed by the activities of mainly industrial fishing companies “without any regulations” at the detriment of the population.
“Honourable Speaker, I beg to move a motion under S53 of the Standing Orders to summon the minister of fisheries and water resources as a matter of urgency to answer to this august Assembly as to the state of the Fisheries Department, the coastal line as well as the wastage of resources. Our citizens deserve to know the state of their resources and this is in line with section 77(4) of the constitution,” Touma addressed the Speaker on the matter yesterday.
She further alleged that Minister Gomez misled the parliament when he told lawmakers that images of mass fish mortalities reported last September were pictures from overseas.
“This matter was brought here sometime ago and the minister [James Gomez] gave us false information and stated that the pictures are not in The Gambia but a foreign country,” she claimed.
However, the motion was not all-smooth sailing before it was agreed upon by other legislators.
The member for Busumbala Saikouba Jarju brought a counter motion urging fellow lawmakers to instead establish a special committee or make use of the parliamentary committee on fisheries to investigate the matter.
However, NAM Jarju later relaxed his argument following consultations which saw the majority of lawmakers accepting the motion to summon the minister.
Speaker Mariam Jack-Denton followed this with an announcement that the Assembly will summon the minister.
Pursuant to press releases issued on 18 December 2018 and 1 July 2019 respectively, the Ministry of Health wishes to remind the public that enforcement of Tobacco Control Act, 2016 and Tobacco Control Regulations, 2019 is still in force.
However, the Ministry has noted with concern the low compliance rate among the general public and institutions in spite of the numerous radio, television and community engagement programmmes conducted to sensitize the pubic on the law and regulations. In addition to the public sensitization programmes, the Assistant Inspector General of Police, on behalf of the Inspector General of Police, also made a televised statement on 12th November 2020, reminding and soliciting the cooperation of the public on the enforcement of the law and regulations.
By copy of this press release, the Ministry is once again reminding the public on some of the key provisions of the Act:
A smoke free environment ensuring that every person has a right to smoke free environment; a person consuming a tobacco product including SHISHA shall ensure that he/she does not expose another person to tobacco smoke, a person shall not smoke in any public place, workplace and public transport, a person shall not smoke in an enclosed space that is within 100 meters of a public place, workplace, public transport or any other place that provides services primarily to minors.
Prohibition of smoking in all public places, which includes offices, office building and workplaces including individual offices, public areas, corridors, lounges, guest rooms, lodging, eating areas, reception area, lifts, escalators, foyers, stairwells, toilets, laundries, amenity areas; court buildings; factories; hotels; bars and restaurants; hospitals, clinics and other health institutions; educational institutions at all levels; premises in which children are cared for; public places of worship; prisons; police cells; public service vehicle and other means of public transport; public transport terminals, including airport and airfields; retail establishments including markets and shopping malls; cinemas and theatrical performance halls; sport stadia; and such other places as may be prescribed by the regulation.
In addition to the list provided, it is important to know that there is no provision in the Act allowing creation of designated smoking areas or zones. The only smoking area as per the Tobacco Control Act, 2016 and Regulation, 2019 is one hundred (100) meters away from public places.
Further to the provisions on smoke free environment, the Act prohibits all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; display of tobacco products at point of sell. Sellers of tobacco products are required to hide their products which shall only be displayed at the time of purchase and selling of single stick of cigarette and small packets less than (20) sticks of cigarette are prohibited.
In accordance with the article 26 of the tobacco control law, the public is hereby informed that police officers, public health officers, custom officers, environmental inspectors or any other person appointed by the Minister of Health are the authorized officers for the enforcement of the law.
With all the all the necessary preparations in place, the public is hereby further reminded that with immediate effect the law enforcement officers shall embark on full enforcement of the law and regulations.
The Ministry of Health and Office of the Inspector of Police therefore solicits the cooperation of the public in the enforcement of the Tobacco Control Law and Regulations to protect the health of the population.
The family of late Sheriff Mustapha Dibba, founder of the National Convention Party and former vice president and Speaker, has submitted a statement to The Standard to state that Mr Dibba was arrested for alleged involvement in the Ndure Cham coup of 2006, but was not tortured as suggested by TRRC witness and veteran politician MC Cham.
The statement reads: The purpose of this statement is to clarify some statements by MC Cham at the TRRC on February 2, 2019. The TRRC was engaged and were notified of the irregularities in the statements made by Mr. Cham.
Firstly, we would like to commend the TRRC for the tremendous national task it has undertaken and which it executed in a very praiseworthy manner.
On the 5th April 2006 at 1:00 am, the late Mr. Dibba was wrongfully arrested and detained at the then National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters, with false accusations of having taken part in the 2006 attempted coup d’état. He was released on the 15th April 2006 and subsequently passed away on the 2nd June 2008.
In the session of the TRRC captioned above, Mr. Cham narrated that he heard noises in his adjoining room and was informed that the late Mr. Dibba was in detention and was tortured to the extent of his hand being broken. Mr. Cham indicated that Mr. Dibba suffered terrible injuries and beatings and needed a cast for his broken hand.
We would like to make it categorically clear that Mr. Dibba was not physically tortured, as narrated by Mr. Cham, during his time in detention. We make this statement as, upon his release there were no physical evidences of such torture on his body. There were no visible bruises, broken bones, swollen body parts or bleeding of any kind whatsoever. No medical treatment was dispensed to him after his release for any injuries, as a result of torture meted out to him during his period of detention.
The late Mr. Dibba’s closest family members and lifelong confidantes, some of whom visited him during detention, can confirm that he did not suffer such injuries as a result of torture, as they would have noticed upon his release.
Given that the TRRC was formed to establish the truth of what happened during this very dark period in The Gambia’s history, we want to bring this statement to the attention of the general public, especially those who heard the testimony, some of whom have made enquiries as to whether the statements were factual. We are therefore setting the record, for the sake of the truth, which is important to the nation, the late Mr. Dibba’s family and friends.”