By Kebba Ansu Manneh
Abubakar S. Jeng, National Security Advisor to President Adama Barrow has emphasized that the government of The Gambia is committed and determined to deliver the Security Sector Reforms (SSR) process that began in 2029, to a logical conclusion.
The NSA made this disclosure during his launching statement of a Crisis Management Simulation Exercise facilitated by the Geneva Center for Security Sector Reforms with funding from the European Union.
The event was held on Tuesday, 21st March 2023, at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Center in Bijilo and it brought together stakeholders of the security sector with the view to horn-up the skills and know-how in managing crisis as the country slowly progresses to witness its final election cycle of the Local Government Elections slated for April and May of this year.
“The government remains committed to reforming the security sector to ensure it is democratically accountable, effective, and efficient. The end state is to attain a security sector that is effective, efficient, apolitical, affordable, accountable, transparent, and responsive to the security, safety, and justice needs of the people based on democratic norms and principles,” Abubakar S. Jeng, NSA affirmed.
He added: “Evidently, the significant level of reform activities has been achieved in terms of capacity building and institutional development of Security Services which is supported by our bilateral partners, principally the European Union (EU), through DCAF and GIZ.
The Crisis Management Simulation Exercise being conducted today and facilitated by DCAF is a great testimony to the ongoing collaboration and support rendered by the EU.” According to him, the crisis management training being conducted builds on the previous training provided by DCAF relative to crisis management and critical incident response, adding that this training culminated in the development of the Crisis Management Manual, Crisis Management Policy, Standard Operating Procedures on Crisis Management, and leadership training.
He disclosed that Operational Commanders across the country and heads of key units in the Police were also trained to augment their knowledge and skill set and preparedness to be able to respond to a crisis effectively with due regard to human rights standards. He noted that this will go a long way to de-escalate the crisis to normalcy in line with the approved internationally acceptable standards
“It is hoped that with this exercise, the roles and responsibilities of tactical, operational, and strategic commanders will be improved, as well as ensure effective coordination with relevant partners and stakeholders during a crisis.
This is the first time that such a simulation exercise is organized by The Gambia Police Force. The scenario selected for the simulation exercise is centered around a land dispute between two communities which is common in The Gambia that could threaten national security,” NSA Chief disclosed.
Sophie Frediani, Principal Program Manager for Geneva Centre for security sector governance highlighted that since its inception DCAF has been working very hard to link the SSR process with the transitional justice process, adding that the TRRC findings and recommendations have direct implications on the security sector reform process undertaken by the country.
According to her, crisis management exercise organized by the Gambia Police Force (GPF) in partnership with DCAF has brought together security heads, commanders, stakeholders, and officials that fall within DCAF’s overall program, funded by the European Union and the government of Switzerland.
The aim of the training, she said, is meant to support the Gambia government’s effort to create a more efficient and accountable security sector, with specific emphasis on the Gambian Police.
Force and the Immigration Department, in the framework of the security sector reform process launched in 2017. She added that the training would also help equip officers with the necessary knowledge to manage crises professionally while adhering to human rights standards, international best practices, and the provisions of the GPF doctrine.
“The crisis exercise, undertaken as part of DCAF’s support to GPF to strengthen its capacity to effectively prevent and respond to the crisis. DCAF has been privileged to support the SSR process from the outset. We established an office in Banjul in mid-2018, which constituted the very first DCAF field office in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Sophie Frediani, Principal Program Manager, DCAF highlighted.
“I would like to thank the senior leadership of security institutions and members of the government for your cooperation with DCAF. None of the achievements outlined before could have been possible without your continued trust and cooperation, which has made our work both very pleasant and impactful,” Frediani thanked.
Lamin Bojang, Commissioner of Operation, Gambia Police Force hailed the simulation exercise as very important and timely, adding that it will help officers to effectively and efficiently carry out their mandate in terms of crisis management as the country heads to the Local Government election.