Gambia: Human Rights Commission condemns police brutality, rights violation against Ebrima

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The Gambian Human Rights Commission has condemned the brutality and rights violations a citizen, Ebrima Sanneh, suffered in the country’s police custody.

Terrified by the police action against a fellow citizen, the Commission set up a panel to investigate the alleged brutality and rights violations.

On Thursday October 8, 2020, the joint investigative panel set by the Commission submitted its findings and recommendations.

While submitting its findings and recommendations, the panel stated that a young man, Ebrima Sanneh, was allegedly assaulted with a hoe on his private parts by Commissioner Gorgi Mboob, head of the Anti-Crime Unit in Bijilo.

It explained that Ebrima and others were arrested and detained for being in a night club where fighting was allegedly reported to have occurred and for possibly violating Covid-19 emergency regulations.

The panel, which was chaired by the NHRC and comprised representative of the Gambia Police Force, the Ministry of Interior, the Association of Non-Governmental Organisations and The Gambia Bar Association received testimonies from seventeen (17) witnesses including Ebrima Sanneh and Commissioner Gorgi Mboob.

The panel also obtained medical evidence from the Kanifing General Hospital and interviewed the Medical Doctor that treated Ebrima.

The premises of the Anti-Crime Unit in Bijilo was visited to assess the scene of the alleged assault and a detailed report has been shared and well received by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and relevant State authorities.

The panel reported that the arrest of Ebrima Sanneh and his colleagues was unwarranted since there was no fighting at the night club as alleged by the Police and the Police did not state that the arrest of Ebrima and colleagues was due to breaches of the emergency regulations.

Ebrima Sanneh and his colleagues were “also subjected to forced labor while in detention and Ebrima was assaulted by Commissioner Gorgi Mboob on his private parts.”

The medical report showed that unlike rumors of a Sexually Transmitted Infection, Ebrima suffered from trauma on his genitals as a result of the assault.

The report however concluded that there was no lasting internal damage. On this basis, the panel made general and specific recommendations on police conduct, assault, forced labour and procedures surrounding arrests.

According to the statement, the panel recommended that the police are to pay monetary compensation to Ebrima Sanneh for the wrongfully inflicted pain and suffering.

“The Inspector General of Police to take disciplinary measures against Commissioner Gorgi Mboob, and to consider his redeployment from the Anti-Crime Unit.

“The Inspector General of Police to always ensure that police officers follow due process in the arrest and detention of suspects at all times,” the statement reads.

It adds that Law enforcement officers have the obligation to fully respect the rights and liberties of suspects no matter the gravity of their alleged crimes.

“The Inspector General of Police to provide all police officers, as soon as is practicable, pocket notebooks for record keeping as well as registers to record the detention and release of all persons under their custody.”

It also states that the Inspector General of Police must ensure that no detainee under the custody of the Police anywhere is subject to forced labour of any kind.

“The Police should hire the services of people to perform cleaning, clearing and other menial work.

“In collaboration with the Police, NHRC should support in the design and implementation of relevant training on human rights-based approaches to policing and human rights in general, especially for officers of the Anti-Crime Unit.

“This should be preceded by a training needs assessment to effectively inform capacity building programmes.

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