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The plight of detainees

Mar 8, 2010, 11:01 AM

We call on the authorities to release those languishing in custody or tell them what crimes they have committed and take them before a court of law, as required by the Constitution.

To take such a decision would be a wise one, and very important indeed, as it would clear all rumours and speculations about people being detained without trial.

It is also best practice that the authorities should tell the citizenry the reason(s) or the alleged crimes committed by those being kept under detention beyond the 72 hours mandated by the constitution.

It is also important to note that in any democratic society the rule of law must take precedence over anything.

The Gambia's constitution calls for the release of any person in custody within 72 hours during which the person must be brought before a court of law or be released.

We must adhere to this important national authority, as it is the supreme law of the land.

While those who have a case to answer should be charged for the offences committed, others against whom there is no sufficient evidence for possible prosecution should be immediately released.

Therefore, as a show of commitment to respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic values, the government should release those detainees who continued to languish in our prisons and are being detained without being tried before a competent court.

Report has it that there are several people who are still remanded without their case being tried in a competent court of law. Most of these people have been languishing there for years, while several others are yet to be charged.

If they are suspected of committing any crime, they should either be charged and tried by a court of law or released unconditionally, as no one should be denied of his/her rights to liberty without due process. After all, we are all supposed to be equal before the law.

"To pass a law and not have it enforced is to authorise the very thing you wish to prohibit."

Cardinal Richelieu

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