Kebba Ansu Manneh
Rights Activists have raised concerns over the recent acquittal and discharge of the alleged rape case involving Bubocarr Keita alias Bob Keita by a High Court judge, Justice Momodou S. Jallow who has declared Mr. Keita a freeman after the Solicitor General at the Attorney General Chambers filed a nollie prosiqui asking state prosecutors to drug charge against Mr. Keita.
Bob Keita was acquitted and discharged of a single count of rape by the presiding judge Justice Momodou S. Jallow before a crowded courtroom that also attracted hundreds of supporters to witness the much-awaited judgment that lasted for up to two years.
However, it seems that activists are not pleased with the judgment that they say was only anchored on fatherhood and failed to establish whether Bubacarr Keita raped the minor or not.
“Technically speaking, the state has woefully failed to pursue the course of justice for both the accused and the victim in the recent case of ‘the State vs Bob Keita’, the case charged sheet before the courts were on ‘Raped’ and not on ‘Paternity’.
One will argue that the onus was on the State to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty as charged, nothing more or less, while the defense must equally prove beyond all doubt of the innocence of their clients,” said Lamin Fatty, national coordinator child protection Alliance
“The discontinuation of the case on the grounds of paternity is misconceived and created for more victimization of the victim and allows for alleged perpetrators going scout free on allegation of rape. We cannot afford to have a landscape, where our girls/ women are silent to speak out against their abusers,” he added.
He stressed the state has ‘messed up big time from the onset by arresting and charging Bob Keita and not the other suspect, making matters worse by collecting DNA of a person, who is not treated as a suspect.
He pointed out that the state was equally complicit in the death of baby Muhammed, having failed to provide any safeguarding measures for a child they put at the center of a highly sensitive case.
For her part, Ndey Jobarteh, a Swedish-Based Gambian activist stated that saying justice is still not fully served, because the paternity as per the court results does not answer the question that Bob is accused of which is “sleeping with a minor under his care.”
“A rape case where a child was born and DNA exempted the accused as a father, does not still exonerate him from the rape he is accused of. Justice is still to be served for all in a case where a minor filed for rape and after one element is removed case over,” Ndey Jobarteh argued.
She added: “Were we truly fighting for justice or were we just fighting to free a friend and a loved one? Were we fighting against injustice because it is our friend and loved one affected? It is indeed a Sad Day for Feminists!”
She described the judgment day as a shameful day for feminists, noting that it was a shameful day to read and see in our society where people jubilating and using the patriarchal tool of shaming women who dare to stand up or report rape or standby a rape victim.
“Now the minor is being hung up like a pinata for all to have a go at bashing with headlines like Who is the father? She slept with many people!! Feminists should go and look for the father among other questions,” Ndey Jobarteh highlighted.
She added: “Indeed a sad day to see people serving offices such as courthouses, police, government, parliament, hospitals, politicians who are supposed to serve us are also vilifying the minor.
“These are people you will meet in offices, police stations, courthouses, hospitals, schools, government, parliament who will not defend your rights, give you the service you deserve, treat you right as ascribed in the Constitution because they are conflicted on what Constitute rape, yours rights to report rape, fault you for allowing yourself to be raped and fault you for speaking up. Indeed a Sad Day and a shameful day for us all,” she said.
“Unfortunately, if your character as a witness is questionable, whatever you say is treated with a pinch of salt. Everyone is mum about the alleged rape. What message are we sending to that young girl who is being raped week in and week out and is afraid to speak out because her abuser is powerful and has got friends in high places of work? What message is our society conveying to those vulnerable girls?” she asked
“To those who celebrate, pause, take a look at what we are doing to each other as a people. There is no winner here, we have a trail of destruction, lives ruined, and a poor life lost. There are minors in this whole situation, the children in the family and the minor. We have a culture of “haste”, pointed out.
Fatou Ellika Muloshi of GRTS also wrote: “Not being the father (according to DNA) doesn’t mean a child wasn’t raped.