The Ombudswoman, Fatou Njie Jallow has said that the President of the Republic should not control the State Intelligence Services SIS.
Mrs Njie Jallow made these remarks in response to the SIS Officer Commanding Operations at a one day sensitiaztion workshop organized by her office in collaboration with the Armed Forces, SIS, NDLEA and GRA at the Senegambia Beach Hotel, Kololi.
“I disagree with Mr Faal, the President should not control the State Intelligence Services they should advise him instead. What, if the president asks you to do something wrong,” Ombudswoman Fatou Njie Jallow asked.
“We are talking about a new Gambia,” she added.
Abdou Faal, SIS Officer Commanding Operations admitted the freedom enjoyed under the new dispensation without fear for one’s life.
“You can now advise the president and go to sleep but under the previous regime, you will not walk out of this room without being arrested,” SIS Officer Faal told the Ombudswoman.
Faal triggered the debate when he said that the national intelligence of any country is under the office of the President and that their role changes base on what a sitting President wants it to be. He said he cannot answer whether there are still detention centers like it used to be under the former regime, referred the issue to the Director General of SIS.
Lieutenant Colonel Abdoulie Jatta who was reinstated about two weeks ago after years in exile said he wanted to know whether they still torture detainees.
Faal said the SIS, Police, Soldiers, Drug Squad and Civilian population were all victims of the past regime across the board.
“We found ourselves in that situation,” he asserted.
“It was undesirable,” he added.
The SIS Officer Commanding Operations said they are trying to reshape the institution governed by the laws which says nobody should be detained more than 72 hours without taken to a competent court of law, adding that the law should be across the board.
“We can only arrest when there are no police officers,” he added.
He was questioned about the need to have legal minds in the institution.
The Ombudswoman Fatou Njie Jallow said the Office of the Ombudsman was established by an Act of Parliament in 1997 and has among its functions the mandate to ‘investigate complains of injustice, corruption, abuse of power, maladministration and unfair treatment of any person by a public officer in the exercise of his or her official duties.
“The office enhances the lofty goals of good governance through access to justice, promotion of the rule of law and protection of human rights,” Ombudswoman Fatou Njie Jallow asserted.
She reaffirmed the importance placed by her office in the protection of the fundamental rights and freedom of all Gambians particularly those in prison and detention. It also serves as a broker not only to articulate the rights of the ordinary citizen but to also act as a check on the administrative arms of government.
Meanwhile, she stated that her office has requested for unrestricted access to Prisons, Police Cells, and all detention centers countrywide. The request she added was made at the ministry of Interior.