By Edward Francis Dalliah
The Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance in The Gambia (DCAF), launched the security sector reform project titled “Gambia Security Sector Reform (SSR) Process for Improved Security, Migration and Border Management” on 22nd November 2023. The project is considered cross-cutting because it supports both the Gambia Immigration Department, the Gambia Police Force, and Civil Society activities relating to SSR.
Speaking at the launch, DCAF Communications Officer, Mr David Kujabi revealed that they have completed a project centred on “strengthening the efficiency and accountability of the Gambia Police Force” funded by the EU. Kujabi added that the success of that project is what informed the European Union (EU) to fund this new project.
The newly launched project has a two-year time frame; however, its implementation started in August 2023 and is expected to end in July 2025. Speaking on the objective of the lunching, DCAF Head of Gambia Office, Mr Ken Isaac told delegates that they intend to “introduce and create awareness about the new project, highlighting its key features and activities”.
DCAF came into existence in The Gambia after the 2016 presidential election and continues to play a crucial role in the security sector reform process in the country.
The Police Force is one of the beneficiaries of the various projects including their first-ever police doctrine which outlines its vision, mission, values, strategic intent, and key themes. In addition to this, the Police have conducted a series of capacity-building training and oversight enhancement.
EU Ambassador, Corrado Pampaloni noted that the EU is “not just providing financial assistance” but also “contributing their expertise and resources that are crucial for the successful realization of this initiative”.
Building on their previous activities supporting the Gambia Police Force the EU Ambassador explained that they “aim to implement the police doctrine effectively”. Similarly, the Gambia Immigration Department has also benefitted from EU-funded projects including the review of the now archaic 1965 Immigration Act. The Bill should be approved by the Cabinet and tabled in Parliament for approval. In addition to this, an ongoing project funded by the Swiss Government aims to “strengthen the efficiency and accountability of the Gambia Immigration Department”.
The Minister of Interior Hon Seyaka Sonko, in his statement, revealed that “the security sector reform initiative run by President Barrow in 2017, aims to address the historical legacy of [autocracy and] establish civilian democracy oversight”.
He added that the Government’s objective is clear and aims to prevent the reoccurrence of “human rights violations [and] ensuring that the security forces will uphold the principles and values of democracy, transparency, accountability and respect for human rights”.
He thanked DCAF, highlighting that they have been very helpful with their projects yielding significant achievement in “enhancing the Gambia Police Force and broader security sector”. In addition, he noted his “ministry has benefited tremendously from capacity building programs and receive valuable resources such as the training manual on oversight responsibilities and a template for the ministries annual report”.