Inquiries conducted by this correspondent come on the heels of a report sent to the newspaper claiming that some UDP members had been arrested or detained in Europe following “political activities and protests” against the government of President Adama Barrow.
The reports also claimed that some of the demonstrators who were picked up and later found to be illegal migrants are "lined-up" for possible deportation in violation of various immigration rules.
However, one of the organisers from the UK, who confirmed receiving the reports, noted: “There was a breakdown in communication…and at one point there were reports of an arrest or arrests… but we later learnt that it has nothing to do with our demonstrations…’’
A Home Office source responding said: “Even though we cannot elaborate on individual cases, it is vital to note that protest is legal in the UK. Period.” But, they added: “There are restrictions and processes to follow…including threat to public health especially with Covid-19”.
Further investigations also revealed that the legislation regarding protest also gives the “police certain powers and in certain circumstances…may take reasonable steps to intervene or even arrest an individual who committed an offence under the legislation.’’
Trying to identify any Gambian name or names regarding the allegation was stonewalled due to the processing of Personal Data governed by the Data Protection Legislation including other relevant legislation both in the UK and across Europe.
Also, investigations through other European countries where similar protests took place had resulted in peaceful demonstrations. Organisers with different agendas who are privy to such events confirmed ‘‘no arrest as far as any protest was concerned.’’
However, in a bid to soothe any simmering tension in the future, some of the organisers responded: “It is not true that we are paying lip services to our activities but simply communicating on the internet due to the Covid-19 restrictions currently in-place across Europe”.
However, most European governments including the UK are "supporting the current democratic and bilateral progression with Banjul" and have outlined that “travel to the Gambia is relatively safe.”
Several human rights bodies are equally encouraging people both inside and outside the country to “avoid any irresponsible situation that may jeopardise the peaceful coexistence and security of The Gambia”.
They unanimously agreed for support in favour of both the government and people "taking into consideration efforts regarding human rights and press freedoms in the country."
Rights bodies across Europe also maintained that such positive achievements are in contrary to “the previous unnecessary and rampant arrest of opposition politicians, journalists and other opponents as well as unlawful detentions, torture and death in custody during the brutal era of Yahya Jammeh.”