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The Executive Committee

United Democratic Party

28 July 2016

 

SUBJECT: IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE UDP LEADERSHIP

FREE OUSAINOU DARBOE AND UDP MEMBERS CAMPAIGN

Dear Compatriots,

Today, at this very hour, minute and second, our hearts beat in unison with the heartbeats of your leaders and members who are incarcerated at the Central Prisons in Mile two.

Their crime is associated with holding a procession but the court has confirmed without any shadow of doubt that they were not guilty of any incitement of violence.

Despite this salient point, they were charged with 7 counts and convicted of 6 counts. They were sentenced to several terms of imprisonment which are to be served concurrently, thus earning them a 3 year jail sentence, partly because of the existence of a law which was enacted since 31st October 1961. This Act imposed mandatory jail sentence of 1 year for holding a procession without a permit. This law was allowed to continue as enacted by the colonial administration until 2009 when the penalty for holding procession without a permit was increased to 3 years by the National Assembly members. Hence the law made by Gambian members of Parliament in collaboration with the executive imposes a 3- year mandatory jail sentence, without any option of a fine to first time offenders.

This retributive style of  law making binds the hands of courts and compels judges  to send first time offenders to jail without regard to their circumstances, which should be given due  consideration in any manner of sentencing that is rooted in substantive justice.

In actual fact, there is need to amend such a law which came into being before Gambia became a Republic. In his book Kairaba the former head of state did give a narration of developments in 1961 which provided the genesis of the Act. He explained how M E Jallow of the Gambia Workers Union turned his back at the Joint Industrial Council and demanded a 90 percent increase in wages. On 20th January his application for a permit to hold a procession was rejected. The defiance of the Union  against the refusal to grant permit by going on strike and confronting the security forces led to the arrest  and charging of Jallow Jallow for incitement of violence. According to Ex President Jawara  Police reinforcement had to be brought from Sierra Leone  to provide more security. It is important to mention that when the Colonial administration decided to hold a Constitutional Conference in May 1961 ME Jallow was invited to be a delegate.   

Political protests are mere manifestations of concerns, especially when they are not linked to any incitement of violence.  Permits are just instruments for the regulation of public order. Hence omission in obtaining them could be handled by dialogue and conciliation if the extenuating circumstances which gave rise to the omission are given fair assessment.  

The point at issue is that Ousainou Darboe and UDP members spent over two months in detention and are now sentenced. Ebrima Solo Sandeng’s whereabouts is now known. He is dead. It is his whereabouts that the UDP leadership sought to ascertain.

Where is his body?  Every body would ask: When is he confirmed dead and why did it take this long for his family and party leadership to know the truth? If the law of the land was complied with in the first place, would it have been necessary for any one to take any action to find out whether he was dead or alive?

The Coroner’s Act is clear. It states that “when a person dies while in the custody of the police or of a prison officer or in prison or when detained in any place under the provision of the lunatics detention Act, or of the Criminal Procedure Code, the Police Officer or the Prison Officer or other person having the custody or charge of the detained person at the time of his or her death shall immediately give notice of the death to the nearest Coroner……….” The Coroner shall hold an inquiry into the cause of death in the manner provided in the Act.

 The Coroner in Banjul and KMC is a Magistrate  of the first class.

Hence Ebrima Solo Sandeng’s death should have been immediately reported to such a Magistrate who, sitting as Coroner, has powers to hold an inquiry into the cause of death and direct a medical officer or other duly qualified medical practitioner to hold a post mortem examination of the deceased person and may prohibit the burial or order the exhumation of a body to conduct enquiry. 

If such procedure was adhered to with consistency there would not have been any need for anyone to protest to find out Ebrima Solo Sandeng’s whereabouts. What had happened would not have happened.

Ebrima Solo Sandeng is the key to the case which led to the incarceration of your leaders and members.

Substantive justice demanded for the state to sort out his whereabouts and give the true picture to address the legitimate concerns of his family members and the UDP leadership.

The state should now have the moral duty to review the plight of those who were driven to action to inquire into Ebrima Solo Sandeng’s whereabouts because of the omission to abide by the letter and spirit of the Coroner’s Act which demands immediate action in making death in detention a public matter that should not be shrouded in any form of secrecy.  This is what is reasonable and justifiable in any society which claims to value human life.

We  had anticipated that your party leader would say after judgment, if he was allowed to address the court before his sentence was delivered as required by Section 244 of the Criminal Procedure Code, that  the wailings of  Ebrima Solo Sandeng’s children and loved ones at his  residence, with the threat that they would march to demand for their father’s body whatever the peril or the cost, would have moved any leader of conscience to march in their place  and suffer the fate  that would have been the consequences of their action.

This is why we have repeatedly said that when conscience dictates reaction to a life or death challenge, criminality should not be alleged. Consequently, we have spared no effort in calling on the State to take this case as a political conflict which requires dialogue and resolution rather than a criminal case requiring prosecution and retribution. Our stance remains the same.

Your leader had no intention to overthrow a government, kill a person or cause any violence. The court has confirmed this by striking out Count No. 3. There was no incitement to violence; hence there was no criminal intent. Your leader is not a criminal. He has been a member of the legal fraternity for 43 years. He chose to exercise his right to form a political party and participate as a candidate in election.

As a leader, he has an obligation to stand up for those he leads. This is a virtue and not a vice and should be recognised as such by any authority that has any regard for duty, justice and fair play.

His incarceration for standing up for his members is not an ordinary event. Today, the members of his party, the people who voted for him in the 2011 Presidential election, the hundreds of thousands of Gambians who want justice not only to be done but to be seen to be done, and the millions of people in the world, who see the issuing of  permits in the exercise of freedom of assembly and association as mere formalities aimed at protecting  those demonstrating or engaging in processions, would not go to sleep with ease knowing that  the fate of the UDP leader and its members is hanging in the balance of uncertainty ,waiting for those in authority to act without conditionality in good faith in the public interest .      

The reverberation of the tune of the National Anthem as wailing supporters displayed their shock and disbelief should drive home the message that the proper action that is required to handle the April 14 and 16 incidents and others connected to them, especially when loss of life is confirmed, is political dialogue and diligent investigation into the loss of life and not legal retribution.

In our view, every just Gambian must bear the very words of the National Anthem in mind as sang by the UDP leadership and members: ‘let justice guide our actions towards our common good’; ‘and join our diverse peoples to prove man’s brotherhood’ (meaning our common humanity). It is therefore absolutely essential for everyone whose conscience is pricked to launch a ‘Free Ousainou Darboe and UDP Members Campaign’. We will propagate this spirit among the PDOIS membership and among all those we could influence until Mr. Darboe and all UDP members rejoin their families and party members and continue to play their part in shaping the political will of the Gambian people.

This is the task before us and we wish to assure you that we will not be found wanting in working assiduously, individually and collectively to achieve the goal.

While giving assurance that we are with you in heart and spirit in your time of need, please accept dear compatriots the assurances of our highest consideration and esteem.

Yours in the Service of the People,

Halifa Sallah

For the Central Committee

PDOIS

Dear Compatriot  

On behalf of the Peoples Democratic Orgnisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), the Central Committee would like to thank you for your donations.  

PDOIS relies on the generosity of Gambian donors such as yourself  and is grateful for your support.  

Your Sincerely  

Halifa Sallah  

Presidential Candidate

Secretary General

  • International Relations

    PDOIS aims to give concrete expression to the aspiration to transform the world into a universal home for human kind, where each nation, big or small, will cooperate, and sub regions and continents will establish Communities of states, and even federations, that will co-exist with similar entities, in the spirit of good neighbourliness, equality and mutual interest, and provide to each sovereign person enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social, cultural and ecological rights.

  • Regional and Sub-regional Integratoin

    Promote Sub-regional Integration, African Unity and International Cooperation with the Commonwealth and UN member states through adoption and harmonisation of Republican and Democratic values, instruments, institutions and culture at all levels, so that sovereign Communities of free and dignified persons, rooted in social justice, will thrive everywhere to ensure enjoyment of a life of liberty in prosperity and thus guarantee world peace and security.

    Enter into a cooperation agreement with our neighbour Senegal, to establish a joint commission of jurists to review constitutional and legal instruments regarding governance with a view to harmonising, standardising and adopting them to promote regional integration and African Unity on a democratic foundation that will serve as a pillar to uphold the fundamental rights of our peoples. 

  • Uphold and Promote Our Progressive Cultural Values

    Promote and preserve cultural heritages that enhance human dignity, self-worth, liberty and prosperity and thus fuse identities and values originating from diverse cultural backgrounds into identity and values of Sovereign Community of Sovereign Gambian citizens in a Republic.

  • Promote a National Cultural Identity

    Combat vestiges of prejudices emanating from ethno-linguistic origins, monarchical and caste systems, religious prejudices, gender stereotypes and other practices which undermine the integrity of a sovereign person in particular and diverse groups in general,

  • Cultural Preservation and Artistic Development at Village, National Level

    Establish a house of culture in each village, district, region and urban centre for artistic and other cultural expressions, in order to promote appreciation of each other’s origins and ensure respect for the upholding of republican and democratic values and ways of life of a Sovereign people.

  • Guarantee the Liberty, Dignity and Prosperity of All

    Ensure that all instruments, institutions and normative practices associated with governance, are designed to affirm and consolidate the sovereignty of the citizen, protect and enlarge the liberty, dignity and prosperity of all.

  • A New Constitution for a New Republic and Beginning

    A commission of Gambian jurists will be constituted to conduct a review of the Constitution and laws that different stakeholders deem to be unreasonable and unjustifiable in a democratic society, in consultation with the wider public and propose reforms that will be followed by a referendum.

  • One Term Transitional Presidency for a New Beginning

    Combat monarchical and self-perpetuating rule of the Presidency by promoting a national consensus on a one term mandate after transfer of power from the current administration, followed by  a constitutional amendment to introduce a two four-year term limit.

  • Gender Parity, Security of Tenure and Proportional Representation

    Introduce Gender parity for two thirds of Cabinet posts and subject appointments and dismissal of Ministers to National Assembly approval. Introduce proportional representation for two thirds of the seats in Parliament, so that one third of the membership will ensure gender parity and institutionalise it in preparing a selection list for the would-be occupants of those seats.

    Eliminate the post of nominated members and replace it with a policy of proportional representation and ensure the security of tenure of parliamentarians by subjecting them to removal only through the exercise of the right to recall by the electorates.

  • Special Service Commission for the Appointment of Judges

    A Special Service Commission will appoint the Chief Justice subject to approval by the president and the National Assembly. It will appoint judges and magistrates in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission.

    Judges and magistrates will be subject to removal only for misconduct or infirmity after a hearing before a tribunal, and the removal of judges will require impeachment proceedings by the legislature.

  • Decentralisation and the Separation of Party and State

    Legislate the separation between party, business and state by requiring Presidents to surrender party leadership positions, entrust their businesses to trustees and concentrate on being every body’s President at all times.

    Implement decentralisation and devolution of power by replacing Governors with Regional Permanent Secretaries representing the Ministry for Regional Administration.

    Establish elected councils to administer villages, districts and regions.

  • Customary Law and Administration

    The Chiefs who now preside over district tribunals will not be appointed or removed by the executive and will have no executive function. Instead they will be appointed by the Judicial Service Commission based on competency in the administration of codified customary law, to serve as presidents of district tribunals. They could be removable only through impeachment proceedings for reasons of misconduct or infirmity ascertained by a tribunal.

  • A Protected Right to Freedom of Expression and Access to Information

    Enact a Freedom of Information Act to remove secrecy from public administration and make administrators accountable to the public they serve, and responsive to enquiries of the media that are supposed to keep people informed. Establish a National Council of Media Practitioners as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism and a means to promote professionalism in media practice.

    Eradicate laws, institutions and law enforcement practices that hinder freedom of expression and undermine the security of a Sovereign person, or do not protect and enlarge liberties, rights, security, safety and freedom of a sovereign people.

  • Repeal Bad Laws and Decriminalise Dissent

    Enact laws, establish institutions and law enforcement practices that enlarge and protect rights and freedoms. We will ensure that conventions on fundamental rights and freedoms that are ratified by parliament will automatically be domesticated by promulgating relevant provisions in the Constitution.

    Review of the Criminal Code to decriminalise provisions that are not reasonable or justifiable in a Republic or Democratic society, and rationalise penalties to be equivalent to crime committed.

  • Human Rights and Civic Awareness

    Establish a National Human Rights Commission to monitor and ensure protection against violations of Human Rights. 

    Launch a nationwide literacy and Civic Education Program to educate people on their fundamental rights and freedoms to promote democratic and Republican values and consolidate social justice.

  • Police and Prison Reform

    Conduct a reform of prisons and prison administration. Introduce community service as alternative to imprisonment to eradicate retributive justice. Establish a National Police Service Commission and a National Prison Service Commission to appoint police and prison staff.

    Establish a National Prison Supervisory Committee and subcommittees to replace the current prison visiting committees to monitor prison conditions and ensure proper administration of prison services. Imams of major mosques and Priests of major churches, union leaders and leaders of registered civil societies or associations, will be honorary human rights commissioners and social auditors who will visit police cells, prisons and other places of detention to check conditions and make representation for compliance with laws, or propose improvement or reforms in the administration of such public institutions.

  • Universal Quality Education for All

    Provide high quality education for all Gambians from kindergarten through College or University in the quest to build a community of sovereign citizens, whose sense of belonging to a community of Gambian nationals will be put above other identities; And who take it as a duty to give to the community what it requires to safeguard the liberty, dignity and prosperity of all.

  • Civil Society Scrutiny of Governance and Public Administration

    Construct a Governance environment involving  people organised into civil associations  to serve as social auditors  who will  scrutinise, criticise  and restrain tendency towards misrepresentation, bad governance, mismanagement and impunity on one hand, and on the other,  serve as the ears, eyes and  mouths of the people who will  speak truth to the authorities in defence of legitimate  individual and  public interest.

  • Promote Good Neighbourliness and Sense of Community

    Promote strong community relations as a means of preventing alienation and its attendant problem of crime and harmful social behaviour. Ensure every member of the community, young and old is fully informed to contribute their quota to nation building.

  • Jobs and Economic Development

    To eradicate an economy  with a narrow capital, investment, production and taxation base, by focusing on prospecting and harnessing minerals, oil and other resources which are  sources of Sovereign National Wealth  for  public  sector  use in promoting  infrastructural development, sustainable and timely loan repayment scheme, and the  provision of social services, thus enabling the government to rationalise taxation by making it affordable and sustainable,  while  promoting  capital formation from all sectors of the economy, public, private, cooperative and informal, to ensure a balanced and proportionate growth of the productive base of the economy to eradicate poverty and promote prosperity.

  • A Vibrant, Innovative Private Sector for Jobs and Cooperate Responsibility

    Encourage the Private sector to be an engine for mobilising capital and foreign direct investment for productive private sector investment, so that it would complement the aim of promoting poverty eradication and the enhancement of general welfare through the creation of employment and discharge of corporate responsibility.

  • A Coorperative Sector for Grassroots Economic Development

    The cooperative sector will be an engine for accumulating Cooperative finances to support family farms, create small scale processing of grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables and milk products with appropriate technology for grassroots development.

  • Micro Finance Support for Entrepreneurship

    A micro finance system to assist entrepreneurs and producers in the informal sector with finance and production inputs at sustainable and low cost rates.

     

To ensure that the state exists for the people and not the people for the state, and further underscore that Government is not an end in itself but a means to promote liberty, dignity and prosperity, PDOIS aims to pursue and achieve the following goals:

Liberty for all, equal eustice for all, equal Representation for all, adequate income for all, education for all, health for all, housing for all, food for all, safe environment for all, access to information and media for all, recreation for all, protection at old age or in case of any infirmity for all, and Freedom from Discrimination for all. 

Institutions:

Establish a Ministry for Regional Integration, African Unity and International Cooperation. Create joint Commissions of Experts to prepare programmatic policy documents and templates for Regional Integration, African Unity and International Cooperation. Promote Establishment of  a Regional and continental Central Bank, Currency, Monetary Fund, Stock Markets, Trading Organisation and Investment Bank to pioneer inter African trade , and world  trade, on a more equitable footing that will be backed by stable continental currencies, continental central bank and continental Monetary fund  and Development Banks.

Action Plan:

Hold bilateral, regional, continental and international negotiations to come up with a programmatic policy document that will create a template on how bi-lateral, regional, continental and international cooperation could be fostered to make the sovereignty of people and the accumulation of sovereign national wealth to eradicate poverty and ensure prosperity, a reality.

Give special priority to facilitate a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Casamance, by calling for the transformation of the Senegalese Army in Casamance into a Republican Army which protects the people, render health services, and enhance infrastructural development. A Sovereign national Conference with mandate to come up with an Economic, political, civil, social, cultural and ecological agenda for the region will be recommended. It will enable combatants to become entrepreneurs,  retrain  people  in all fields of endeavour and academia to enable them  occupy their rightful place in Casamance as teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers and technicians of all sorts. Donor conferences will aim to give the territory a new start through massive investment in infrastructural development and social uplifting programmes. 

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