Check the State to Protect Our Human Rights

Mamos Media

Madi Jobarteh

The idea that to check, criticize, protest or hold accountable the decisions and actions of the State or a President or IGP is lack of appreciation for them is indeed unfounded. Such thinking manifests intense political miseducation and a gross misunderstanding of the role of a citizen in a democracy.

It is false to think that just because one is a President or IGP therefore any decision they make is in line with the law and for public interest. Otherwise Yaya Jammeh would have been a Saint! There is ample evidence that leaders and public officials do make very terrible decisions and act unlawfully sometimes, if not a lot of the time, just to serve their selfish personal and political objectives.

Citizens have rights and duties and the State has obligations. Citizens give enough powers and resources to the State to protect and fulfill our rights. Hence the only duty citizens have is to check the State to ensure that the institutions and agents of the State are acting within their powers as set out in the law and judiciously managing public resources. Without the State acting within the law and managing public resources and affairs transparently then not only are human rights at risk but the provision of public services and opportunities to citizens is also severely undermined.

Each and every individual citizen had to surrender lot of our rights to the State in order to allow the State do their job for us. This is why the State can demolish our houses or arrest and jail us or determine how much we can buy a loaf of bread or sugar. But to allow the State to do so they have to abide by the law otherwise the damage the State can cause to the citizen could be deep and far reaching and fatal.

A good citizen does not ignore or blind his or her eyes to the actions of the State unless if you wish to be manipulated, abused, impoverished and even killed! The laws of The Gambia give far more powers and tools to the State than to any individual citizen. Hence we cannot merely compare a citizen to the State or ignore the decisions and actions of the State or think that the State will always demonstrate the best of intentions!

It is the State that owns and controls weapons. It is the State that has the National Assembly to make laws. It is the State that has the courts to try and sentence us. It is the State that has the police, intelligence, military, prisons and customs with wide ranging powers to arrest and detain and are well armed for that purpose. There is no citizen who can raise an army or call anyone for questioning in one’s house as the State can do. The law prohibits it.

Therefore check the State squarely at all times so that they are made to abide by the law. To check the State such as the police does not mean one does not like the police or that one is ignoring or condoning attacks on the police! Far from it.

Checking the State to ensure that it acts within the law is in itself in the interest of the State. When the State abides by the rule of law and protects human rights and upholds democratic norms it makes the State become transparent, responsive and efficient hence accountable. When the State is like that it therefore makes citizens to have lot more trust and confidence in the State. When citizens have trust and confidence in the State this means citizens become more law abiding, cooperative and supportive of State organs and agents.

Therefore The Gambian State must help itself by frantically seeking to improve its adherence to the rule of law. At the same time citizens must check all State organs and agents to ensure that they abide by the law and perform their duties effectively and diligently.

For The Gambia Our Homeland

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