A Commission of inquiry set up by President Adama Barrow to investigate the killing of three Gambian environmentalists back in June 2018, by The Gambian police, has finally published its findings on Wednesday, the Freedom Newspaper can reveal. The Commission has ordered for the prosecution of five members of Gambia’s police intervention unit, including some civilians who were linked to the destruction of properties. Faraba Banta is situated on the West Coast Region of The Gambia.
Gambia’s Inspector General of police Landing Kinteh tendered his resignation from the Force in the wake of the shooting incident. He was replaced by his Deputy Mamour Jobe, a career long serving member of the Force. Kinteh was among of the list of witnesses, who testified before the Commission.
Gambian Government spokesman Ebrima G Sankareh, Ebrima Camara, Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service and Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou addressed a news conference yesterday, where they commented on the outcome of the Faraba Commission report. The much awaited Commission report contained damning findings against the PIU, Gambia’s Geology Department personnel, including some civilians, who were blamed for the wanton destruction of property at the Faraba mining site.
“Gambia government White Paper on the report of the Faraba Banta Commission of Inquiry. On 18th June 2018, there was a tense standoff between the police intervention unit (PIU) and the residents of the Faraba Banta village in the West Coast Region of The Gambia, regarding sand mining activities in the village by Julakay Limited; a private company. The standoff led to an eruption of violence between the said residents and the PIU, resulting into the deaths of three civilians; serious injuries to some civilians and PIU personnel and the destruction of properties in the village,” Mr. Sankareh remarked.
The Faraba Commission was headed by Gambian Human Rights Lawyer Emmanuel Joof. The Commission has blamed the personnel of The Gambia police intervention unit (PIU) for the killing of the three unarmed environmentalists. It also says the PIU officers fired shots at the villagers without the approval of the police command.
“The Commission has found that while there was no proper coordination of the operation by the police on 18th June 2018, the Commission found that no orders; and I emphasize, no orders were given by the police high command to shoot at the crowd. In essence, the police intervention unit personnel who fired at the villagers did show without lawful command and acted alone,” Gambian Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou told journalists.
“The government accepts the recommendation of the commission in this regard as contained in pages 47 to 52 of the report and has consequently taken measures including the following: That one, appropriate criminal prosecution be continued against ASP Musa Fatty, PC Musa Badjie, PC Nuha Colley, First Class Momodou Z Jallow and Superintendent Baboucarr Cham for the deaths of Baboucarr Kujabi, Ismaila Bah and Amadou Jawo,” Tambadou added.
The Faraba sand mining dispute has resulted in the massive destruction of properties. Dozens of people were injured and hospitalized. Some of the injured victims are still seeking medical treatment.
The Commission recommends for the suspension of some staffers of Gambia’s Geology Department for their role in the incident. The affected staffers have been suspended from work for six months without pay.
It also recommends for the firing of the Faraba village head, including the dissolution of the village Development Committee.
The Julakay Engineering Company has been banned from mining sand from the site for now. The government also says it will provide financial compensation to the victims of the incident.
The Gambian police have been instructed to commence an investigation and bring to book civilians linked to the destruction of properties during the standoff at Faraba Banta.