Protests in Faraba Banta 2018
The protests in Faraba Banta 2018 took place on June 18, 2018 in the Gambian town of Faraba Banta . Young people protested there against the operator of a sand pit . The Gambian police reacted to the protests by using firearms, which resulted in three deaths and nine other injuries.
In the West African state of Gambia, near the town of Faraba Banta (often also Faraba for short ), around 50 km south of the capital Banjul , the mining company Julakey Company received the contract to carry out sand mining work in 2018. Allegations have been made that the contract was awarded without consulting the local village council and stakeholders. In the week leading up to the shooting, the National Assembly's environmental committee had ordered the Julakey Company to cease operations pending an investigation into the mining operations. However, due to communication difficulties, the company had not received an official letter from the committee on the day of the incident asking it to do so.
On Monday June 18, 2018, angry residents of Faraba Banta took to the streets to protest the mining company. This led to riots. Faraba environmental activists set fire to five trucks loading sand in the mining area. Youths were also observed targeting the properties of four people involved in the mining operation. Household items were taken out of the houses and set on fire and the houses were damaged.
The Police Intervention Unit (PIU), a police intervention unit of the Gambia Police Force , drove into the village with ten officers. She collided with the protesters. Three PIU officers injured. One of the injured, Alieu Camara, was later identified as the PIU officer who fired live ammunition at the unarmed demonstrators. Two protesters were killed instantly, and a third, a student at Gambia College , was admitted to Banjul at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital , where he died two days later. Nine other people were injured and taken to Brikama Major Hospital.
Journalist Pa Modou Bojang, who had interviewed the villagers that morning, was present at the incident. He observed how the vehicles of the PIU pulled up and the security forces suddenly opened fire. Bojang took cover in this incident. He was then picked up, insulted, beaten and temporarily arrested by the PUI.
Reactions and consequences
Gambia Press Union
The Gambia Press Union (GPU) condemned the attack on journalist Pa Modou Bojang by the members of the police unit. According to a press release on June 19, the GPU tried to contact the Public Relations Officer of the Gambia Police Force, but he could not be reached. The GPU was also deeply concerned about the trend in attacks against journalists in the past. The GPU therefore called on the Barrow administration to open a full investigation into the matter.
Activists and human rights organizations
Mustapha Camara, a youth leader from Faraba and an eyewitness to the incident, condemned the PIU's murder of unarmed youth. He also urged the government to investigate immediately. The international human rights organizations Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) and Article 19 called on the government to investigate the shooting as part of an independent investigation.
After the incident, told Landing Kinteh , the Inspector General of Police ( English Inspector General of Police , IGP) that he did not have the authority granted to the police officers to use the incident live ammunition while. He issued a statement that his office will "investigate the circumstances that led to this unfortunate incident." On June 21, Kinteh resigned as inspector general. His deputy, Alahagie Mamour Jobe , took over the duties of inspector general.
The day after the incident, President Adama Barrow's office issued a statement saying that he was "deeply saddened" by the reports. He ordered a thorough investigation into the matter as soon as possible. He called for " calm and restraint " and also issued instructions that all mining activities should be suspended until further notice. The week following the incident, Barrow appointed a commission of inquiry, named a medical examiner, and visited the victim at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital. On Friday June 22nd, Barrow visited Faraba. He led the Friday prayer and then said, “ It is not only Faraba Banta who is mourning, but the whole country is in shock and grief. "
Five police officers involved in the shooting, including two superintendents, were taken into custody by police. On June 21, it was announced that Barrow had appointed human rights lawyer Emmanuel Joof to chair the commission of inquiry. Five other members of the Commission were appointed, made up of a representative of the Ministry of Justice , the Bar Association of The Gambia , the Armed Forces of Gambia , the state news service and The Association of Non-Governmental Organizations composed (TANGO).
On July 6th, the members of the commission were sworn in by President Barrow and were as follows:
- Emmanuel Joof , chairman, human rights lawyer
- Neneh MC Cham , Lawyer and President of the Female Lawyers Association of The Gambia (FLAG)
- Abdoulie Colley, prosecutor
- Omar Cham, former NIA officer
- Lt. Yusupha Jallow, Lieutenant in the Military Police
- Charles Njie, Secretary of the Commission, Chairman of TANGO
By the end of August 2018, the commission questioned more than 80 people, including witnesses, experts, members of the local council of elders, the young people and police officers. The report of the incident was presented at the end of November 2018. Attorney General and Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou issued a statement in May 2019 after his ministry looked at the matter after reviewing the report. It was decided that the charge of murder of the Intervention Unit (PIU) police officers should be replaced by manslaughter.
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