#Article (Archive)

Restraint is Called for in the Face of Outrage

Aug 12, 2008, 5:17 AM

There is at this time great public concern about the perceived increase in the number of murders and rapes in the country. This is an extremely delicate issue with emotions running high and, as such, should be treated with great care. It is very easy in cases such as this for people to get carried away in frenzy of revenge and retribution but we must not allow this to happen. In today's issue of The Point are the views and opinions of various members of the general public who spoke to our reporter about their thoughts on the matter. The views, as to how it may be dealt with or what the underlying causes may be, vary widely as one might expect. In the article in question our reporter raises the issue of media coverage. This is very pertinent. As is its role the media in The Gambia reports many of the cases of rape and practically all the cases of murder which take place in the country. Because of this we must ask ourselves is the number of cases genuinely increasing or are we as a society simply becoming more aware of the actual scale of the problem?

President Jammeh recently highlighted his concerns over the perceived increase and this has again raised public awareness on the issue. President Jammeh spoke of his intention to "set an example." He said, "let them know that there is a death penalty in this country and I will not hesitate to set an example. Stabbing people to death, in fact killing human beings, is unacceptable. We will not tolerate crime of whatever nature, more so violent crimes." Many people were suitably pleased that the President has taken such a personal interest in the current situation with violent crime in the country but in reality it is not up to him to "set an example". The prosecution of criminals is the job of the legal system in this country. We have laws which prohibit murder and rape and if these are administered properly then there will not be a problem with regard to punishment. As for the issue of the death penalty this can only be seen as a step backwards as many nations are now seeing that for straight revenge of this kind to be visited on the perpetrators of crime serves little purpose and in fact has been proven to not even act as a deterrent to those who are engaged in criminal activities.

Another strong feeling which came from our reporter's investigations was that this problem was down to the number of foreigners in the country as if a Gambian would never commit a crime of this kind. This is a dangerous fallacy for the general public to hold. Blanket terms like 'foreigners' serve only to breed xenophobia and marginalise entire sections of the population needlessly.

The Police Force of The Gambia are employed by the state to seek out the perpetrators of these crimes and bring them before our judicial system to be tried and either sentenced or released. We must try as a nation not tobe ruled by the strong emotions such as fear and a desire for revenge which can surround such topics as these. There is no doubt that it is a tiny percentage of the population who carry out these heinous acts. We must treat them with dignity and place them in a place where they can no longer harm themselves or others. Murder and rape are not new phenomenon and the real test of a society's humanity is how it deals with those which break its rules.

"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we might fear less." [if supportFields]>tc ""Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we might fear less." "

Marie Curie