By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
The European Union convened a meeting between Security Service Chiefs and Personnel, Civil Society Actors and Government Authorities on Wednesday 30th October 2019 at Ocean Bay Hotel in Cape Point. During the meeting four questions were presented for delegates to brainstorm around Security Sector Reform (SSR) in The Gambia. This session was done in the “World Cafe Method” of brainstorming. Delegates were divided into four groups and each group took turns in brainstorming and submitting recommendations to a group ambassador taking note. Below are the recommendations presented by Team Gom Sa Bopa’s Spokesperson, Yusef Taylor commonly known as Flex Dan (the author).
Question 1 – How can trust between the population and Security Services be fostered?
Care needs to be exercised on how the Government implements the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC). If the recommendations are implemented selectively as demonstrated in the Janneh Commission then this could cause further problems within the Security Sector.
If the Executive rejects any recommendation going forward it would be prudent to provide sufficient justification as to why any recommendation is being rejected. If the Executive is seen to provide blanket amnesty for individuals close to the Executive the implementation of the recommendations could be viewed as bias which will impact on reparation and reconciliation efforts as well as SSR.
Question 2 – How can Civilian and Political oversight of the Security Services be enhanced?
A proactive National Assembly Select Committee on National Defense and Security
The National Assembly Select Committee cannot continue to remain a silent body when issues of National Security occur such as recent civil unrest and the alleged killings of civilians by Security personnel. There needs to be a clear procedure whereby if a concern/ petition is submitted to the National Assembly Select Committee an appropriate response and action will be observed some days/ weeks after the submission. If this is observed then the Public’s trust will be enhanced knowing that concerns will be addressed. There is need for a more proactive National Assembly Select Committee.
Question 3 – Which non-security Solutions can we think of to improve the Security environment (in communities)?
Appropriate Budget Allocation
With brighter streets and appropriate investment in infrastructure crime will be reduced. Just yesterday I [Yusef Taylor] was at a UNICEF Press Conference and the issue of lack of resources to ensure that the Security can deal with Children in vulnerable situations was raised by the UNICEF press conference. The lack of facilities to accommodate vulnerable children was underscored as I narrated my experience when a Police Officer returned a missing child to a good Samaritan who had found and returned the child to the Police Station because they [the Police]did not have the appropriate facilities to take custody of the child.
This highlights that the national budget needs to be appropriately allocated for Security to do their job, for brighter streets and safer infrastructures, for appropriate allocation for welfare facilities for the most vulnerable in society and appropriate budget allocation for youth who have never been allocated 1% of the National Budget.
Improved Public Service Delivery
Looking at previous instances of public unrest, the July 24th 2019 Brikama protest was as a result of concerns from local communities on the poor service delivery of Brikama Area Council. The local markets were filthy, the environment lacked regular cleaning and public sanitation was almost non existent in public spaces. This needs to be addressed because if poor service delivery continues more communities may result to civil disobedience and protest to express their discontent with the state of public service delivery.
Question 4 – What needs to be done before ECOMIG leaves?
Community Policing at High Risk Locations
The Security apparatus needs to collaborate together so that all Security Sectors are working towards the same objective of preserving peace in The Gambia post ECOMIG’s departure. Mapping of all the hot-spots can be done by reviewing past incidents of unusual violence and civil unrest.
The Police need to build their capacity as the first line of defense and engage in concerted efforts to implement Community Policing through frequent engagement in the identified hot-spot communities. The Armed Forces need to have a standby action plan if Community Policing fails. Clear delineation of responsibilities in a post ECOMIG situation is important to ensure that all Security Services can show ownership in preserving peace in the country.