BUNJA NYASSI AND OTHERS RELEASED ON BAIL

Foroyaa has the duty under section 207 of the Constitution to uphold the fundamental rights of citizens as guaranteed under Chapter 4 of the Constitution and further promote the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people. It has never deviated from this provision of the Constitution.

In the case of Bunja Nyassi we have made it abundantly clear that the Constitution does not allow for his detention for more than 72 hours without being taken before a court or released on bail. We gave the army the opportunity to explain why he is being detained. We deliberately published the views of the PRO of the armed forces so that the ground for his detention is known to the public.

Every enlightened Gambian who read the position of the PRO would be clear that he was not stating the position of the Constitution. The Armed Forces Act is subordinate to the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia. Hence no provision of that Act could contradict section 19 of the Constitution without being null and void. That is the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

The story about the history of Bunja Nyassi, his association with Charles Taylor, and alleged service to Jammeh are not relevant unless he is charged with a crime and taken before a court. As long as he is not charged with a crime, all comments on his background will amount to trial by press rather than trial by an independent and impartial tribunal. The public should therefore disregard anything said about a person under detention like Bunja Nyassi, touching on their history, personality or character and only take note of the verdict of a court.

Under section 24 of the Constitution even an accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Hence the armed forces have done the right thing in releasing Bunja Nyassi on bail.

It is the promise of the government that under the new dispensation there will not be any detention without trial and any disappearance without trace, all law enforcement officers and members of the disciplined force should take note of this promise and accordingly safeguard it.