STATEMENT BY H.E. ADAMA BARROW, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA ON THE SURGING CRIME RATE IN THE COUNTRY
21st MAY 2021
Fellow Gambians and Residents of The Gambia,
As a follow-up to my recent Koriteh message, I deem it urgent to address you, once again, on the upsurge of reported crimes in the country.
It is obvious that my government has exercised much restraint since 2017 to allow Gambians and residents of The Gambia to enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms without interference.
Unfortunately, it is now evident that some individuals and groups among us are taking advantage of the prevailing free and democratic environment to engage in violent-related crimes, such as illegal possession of arms, robbery, burglary, rape and various types of assaults, some of which tragically end in fatalities. This must stop and it must stop immediately!
We cannot create the necessary environment for freedom and peace to prevail, yet allow ruthless criminals to take advantage of the situation to deny our people the liberty to carry on with their normal lives freely, and enjoy the serenity of their homes without fear of being attacked or robbed of their hard-earned money or property.
It is my primary duty as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to keep this country safe; therefore, let me assure you all that I will discharge my responsibilities, both day and night, without fear, favour, ill-will or affection.
My government will continue to do everything possible to boost the capacity of The Gambia Police Force and other internal security services, in relation to personnel, equipment and training, in order to enhance their response capability to all threats and crimes.
We are aware that the country will soon enter into a new electoral cycle, beginning with the Presidential election in December of this year.
This precedes the Legislative and Local Government elections. As we all know, free and fair elections can only be held in a secure atmosphere, free from fear and intimidation.
Accordingly, I call upon the requisite organs of the State – the Judiciary, Legislature and the media – to play their roles and complement one another to nib the surging crime rate in the bud.
By the same token, I invite our development partners, both bilateral and multilateral, to support Government efforts to provide and maintain a secure and safe environment for the upcoming election and for the wellbeing of everyone in The Gambia.
As a final warning to the criminals and bandits in our midst, I hereby order the National Guard Unit of the Armed Forces to be on standby for deployment, when needed, to assume police duties, as provided for under the National Guard Unit Police Duties Regulations. Together with all citizens, we must never allow The Gambia to be a safe haven for criminal acts and banditry.
Under these circumstances, I am duty-bound to remind and call upon all well-meaning Gambians and residents of The Gambia to equally take their own security seriously.
This is not about politics. Crime is not a political matter and, therefore, should not be politicised. Let us join forces to eliminate crime and expel all criminals from our communities.
I advise everyone to be vigilant, and to report suspicious activities discovered either within your neighbourhoods or on the streets. Good citizens readily and willingly support law enforcement officials and even lend them a hand, where necessary, during their operations. The least we can do is not to obstruct them in any way.
I urge you further not to harbour criminals in your homes or try to assist in covering their crimes. The lives and property that the law enforcement officers strive to protect by day and night belong to us, and we do not wish to be victims of lawless criminals.
Always remember that we are safer working together; therefore, let us act together.
Thank you for your kind attention.
May Allah continue to bless The Gambia.