March 29, 2023

Death of man after alleged torture by Anti-Crime Unit triggers protests

Inspector General of The Gambia Alhagie Mamour Jobe


Information reaching The Monitor newspaper have it that one Ousman Daboe, has died after alleged torture in custody of the Anti-Crime Unit (ACU) of the Gambia Police Force.

One of Darboe’s colleagues who spoke to this medium on conditions of anonymity said the deceased yesterday, Monday, July 23, 2019 went to report at ACU office in Bijilo.

The source added that the deceased was later taken to Africare Clinic at Brusubi Turntable yesterday where he was later confirmed death after 10 minutes of arrival in the evening around 9:00 p.m.

Deceased Ousman Darboe died after alleged torture by  Anti-Crime Unit

A young IT student doing his apprenticeship under Darboe’s friend, said he spoke to him yesterday and promised to pick a computer hard drive from him only to receive the news of his death.

However, a colossal crowd of young people gathered in front of ACU office at Bijilo in protest of the death of the Darboe, while the protest at Serrekunda market got more tense in the afternoon and personnel of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Muhmmed Darboe, brother to Ousman said his brother’s death was announced at the hospital last night following his normal reporting at the ACU office.

Police call for calm

In a release from the office of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the police confirmed receiving information about those they described as ‘a mob of angry youth’ marching towards the Anti Crime Unit to protest the demise of Ousman Darboe.

Calling on the youth to observe calm and restraint, the statement explained that Ousman Darboe’s name came up during investigations into a Breaking and Stealing incident that occurred at Kerr Serign on 14th July 2019.

It says the suspects in the said case confessed selling items stolen from the Kerr Serign incident to Ousman Darboe.

“Investigators visited his shop at Serrekunda market where a Flat Screen television, part of the stolen items was recovered in his possession,” the release signed by the police PRO, Assistant Superintendent Lamin Njie stated.

According to the police, on the 12th July 2019, he was arrested and charged with receiving of stolen properties contrary to the laws of the Gambia and on Monday the 15th of July 2019, he was granted bail within 72 hours as specified by law and was subsequently reporting on bail.

The Gambia cops further said Ousman Darboe was said to be an Asthma patient as shown by medical papers tendered by his family during his detention which prompted his bail.

The Inspector General’s Office assured the public that it will continue a probe into the death of Ousman Darboe and the outcome will be duly communicated to ascertain the cause of death, urging the public to maintain the peace and security of the country.

Early signals

It could be recalled that a renowned Gambian human rights activist, Madi Jobarteh had sent an earlier signal expressing his concern and strong disapproval at what he described as the way and manner the ACU performs its duties in combating crime in the country.

According to him, on its own the Gambia Police Force cannot control and eradicate crime in the Gambia. Rather good policing requires that there is effective communication and respectful contact with the community in order to build trust.

He added that it is that trust that will generate a cordial relationship and fruitful engagement with the community to work together to identify the causes of crime and how to address them.

“I strongly believe that it is better for the Gambia Police Force to invest lot more resources into community policing than into traditional or forceful means of containing crime,” said Jobarteh.

He stated that the creation of the ACU has been largely applauded by many Gambians however this is not a carte-blanche for the Unit to engage in violence, abusiveness and arbitrariness in the execution of its duties.

He called on the Unit to contain itself within the laws of the Gambia, citing the Constitution and the Police Act the powers and obligations placed on the Gambia Police Force give it the character and role of a human rights protector.

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