The menace of torture is taking its share of the physical and psychological wellbeing of families and individuals in different facets in The Gambia. With the existence of Convention Against Torture defiance to putting a stop to torturing is equivalent to a blatant attack on the Ban of Torture.
Despite the international campaign banning torture in all forms, the allegations of some people in power in The Gambia using torture to obtain information from suspects particularly those under custody, seems to be a consolidation grips on the act.
Whether physical or psychological, torture affects sanity in society and can quickly agitate the populace to develop an animosity for the status quo. There is no reason why an inmate or a suspect should undergo torture even if the person is arrested for criminal intent, or have committed a crime. The courts of law are here for redress. People in authority should have regards for the law. People who are under police custody should be presumed innocent until found guilty by a competent court of law.
It is a welcome position by the state to bring men and women in uniform to justice for allegedly torturing suspects to death or to point where they unduly suffer in their hands. It is not enough to see them charged but prosecuted quickly.
This year alone, eight security officers were arrested, detained and facing trial for torturing suspects to death. In recent times, many suspects appearing in courts often complain of the use of torture when their cautionary statements were being obtained by security forces. In January 28, 2011, Dembo Sibi, a native of Numuyel village in Upper River Region, was beaten to death allegedly by four members of Police Intervention Unit (PIU). The officers were arrested and the case is before the Basse Magistrates' Court.
To say the least, the murder of Cherno Alieu Suwareh allegedly by four anti-narcotic Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA) officers is unacceptable, cruel, degrading and inhuman. The government should not allow the spread of torture and must put a stop to torture as well as make people believe that the practice is unequivocally inhuman and deplorable.
The Gambia should develop on its weakness on human rights chronicles so that we can be recognized as respecter and promoter of human rights. In doing so, we must forbid torture in all circumstances and the security apparatus should be educated on the dangers and consequences of torture in our society. Bearing in mind that the execution of force on suspects to obtain information amounts to the violation of Convention against Torture, Cruel, Degrading and inhuman Acts signed by 146 states. What is amazing in this country is that those who have the mandate to protect people from harm, are the ones allegedly appearing before courts for torturing people undercover. This is outrageous and inconceivable in any democratic state.
We would hasten to say that family members of victims of torture are in one way or the other victims of torture themselves. They undergo psychological torture like trauma.It is therefore, incumbent on authorities and judicial institutions to ensure that a stop is put to torture and the law is observed in our everyday life as a nation.
The media has a stake in supporting authorities in this task and also for calling their attention to them if they fail in their duty. Out spoken and opinion leaders should make their voices heard in condemning the cruelest act - torture. It is believe that once torture always remains tortured.