I hereby call on the Inspector General of Police to stop the harassment and intimidation being meted out to Ms. Fatou Jagne.
Over the past few days, the young lady has been shuttling between police stations and police cells without the police saying anything publicly that Fatou has done wrong. Rather media and social media reports only indicate that the lady was either bailed or the bail was revoked. Yet until now she has not been charged with any crime. Why are the police haranguing the lady?
I have been tracking the GPF social media platforms all these days hoping to see a press statement about Fatou to no avail. I have not seen or read any statements from police spokespersons either indicating what violation Fatou committed. Yet the lady continues to face disturbances on her rights and peace from the police. Why?
If social media reports are true, that she was said to have criticized the First Lady and the IGP is the reason for this harassment then all Gambians must stand up to defend Fatou and demand her freedom forthwith.
The IGP and the First Lady are public officials who are in charge of a public office. Therefore, every citizen has a right to praise or criticize their actions, decisions, and conduct, rightly or wrongly, fairly, or unfairly. There is no law that states that praising or criticizing the IGP or the First Lady is a crime in this country.
If the IGP and the First Lady do not agree with Fatou’s criticism, then let them also release their own statements to refute her claims or ignore her. But the Gambia Police Force must not be used as a weapon to harangue individuals just because they criticize the IGP and the First Lady.
Even if Fatou had invaded their privacy or defamed their personality beyond and above their official capacity and functions, then let them sue Fatou in court. In that case the Gambia Police Force has no business in such a situation as it is entirely a civil matter.
It is seven years since we removed dictatorship out of this country so that citizens have the right, space, and freedom to express their opinions on issues that they feel concern them with fear or harassment. Among these issues are the decisions, actions, and overall conduct of public officials in the way and manner they manage their offices, relate with people, or engage in issues as part of their official functions and capacity. For that matter Fatou Jagne or any other Gambian has a right to either praise or criticize the IGP and the First lady and other public officials without fear of reprisals.
What has been happening to this young lady these past days is unacceptable as it constitutes a direct violation of her fundamental rights and freedoms as set out in the Constitution. We do not expect these abusive actions to prevail ever again in the Gambia hence the ‘Never Again’ mantra. The ordeal that Fatou has been facing these past days clearly questions the Gambia Government’s intentions and commitments to democracy and transitional justice.
I hereby call on all citizens to raise their voices against the intimidation and psychological torture that are being meted out to Fatou by the Government. Remember, Fatou is the latest victim of state harassment today, and your silence and indifference will make you the next victim one day.
In this regard I hereby call on the National Human Rights Commission as well as human rights organizations and in particular women’s rights organizations and activists to speak out and demand the IGP to stop harassing Fatou Jagne and free her completely.
No To Abuse of Power. No To Impunity.
For the Gambia Our Homeland