State Drops Charges against Madi Jobarteh
The office of the Inspector General of Police has dropped all charges against a human rights defender Madi Jobarteh with immediate effect, the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission announced on Friday.
Jobarteh was charged with false publication and broadcasting during an interview with journalists while leading a ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest last month. In the interview, he faulted the police for disregarding the investigations into their own brutalities against citizens including the murder cases of Haruna Jatta, Kebba Secka and Ousman Darboe.
He has since been subjected to consistent reporting to different police stations in the country. Different civil society organizations locally and internationally have piled pressure on the government to release Mr Jobarteh unconditionally. Many believed that it’s a violation against freedom of expression and the mark of reverse into dictatorship.
His release on Friday was preceded by a discussion at the National Human Rights Commission with the Gambia Police Force, the Gambia Bar Association and The Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (TANGO).
“I am happy to announce that as Inspector General of Police of The Gambia Police Force, we are dropping all charges against Mr. Madi Jobarteh as of today. No other action will be taken against him as far as this case is concerned”, said the IGP.
According to the statement signed by Chairman Emmanuel Joof of the National Human Rights Commission, it was achieved after a frank discussion, which the Commission had with the Inspector General of Police on Thursday 9th July 2020, subsequent to its concerns raised with the Minister of Interior regarding the case.
“At today’s meeting, both TANGO and GBA reiterated that the State is the primary duty bearer and has the obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the fundamental human rights of all persons residing in The Gambia.”
They called on the Gambia Police Force and all other State security agencies to continuously assume their critical roles as the number one defender and protector of the rights and freedoms of the people.
“It is important to highlight that the right to freedom of expression and speech is sacrosanct and can only be limited in accordance with procedures established by law and in particular to achieve public order and security. The enjoyment of all other human rights cannot be possible when the right to freedom of expression and speech is stifled, censored or unduly restricted or when the people feel a sense of intimidation and fear for expressing their views and opinions on matters of national or public interest.
Joof reminded the IGP the importance of timely communication with the public, especially on matters of public interest and concern, adding that suspicions and speculations are minimized when the public is regularly informed and aware of cases under investigations by the Police.
Both TANGO and the GBA encouraged the State and its security apparatus to engage with civil society, communicate in a timely and accurate manner and to build strong partnerships to foster a smooth transition following two decades of arbitrary rule by the former president.
“The National Human Rights Commission wishes to remind the Government of its obligations to respect and protect the right of the people to free speech, in accordance with Section 25 of the Constitution of The Gambia, 1997, which guarantees every person living in The Gambia the right to freedom of expression, conscience, assembly, association and movement, as expected in a democratic nation anchored on the rule of law, good governance and dues process.”