Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has renamed the country’s most brutal state security bureau from the National Intelligence Agency to the State Intelligence Services.
The renaming is part of the Barrow administration’s plan to reform the agency that has been accused of most of the tortures, killings, and prolonged detentions during the 22-year tyrannical rule of former President Yahya Jammeh.
Barrow has pledged to overhaul the security system but declined a push by some rights defenders for the country’s intelligence services to be disbanded.
“The rule of the law, that will be the order of the day,” he said. “We need an intelligence service,” promising to make sure the new bureau do not act with impunity.
“It’s an institution that has to continue, but the name will change,” Barrow said.
President Barrow did not announce if the new SIS will be having a new leadership. The NIA Director Yankuba Badjie, who was only answerable to former President Yahya Jammeh has met with Barrow twice and took part in his meetings with security chiefs.
Rights defenders are calling for his arrest for crimes against the state and human rights abuses.
Despite widespread allegations of serious abuses committed by the agency over the last two decades of Jammeh’s rule, none of its officers were held accountable for the tortures, rapes, killings and arbitrary detentions.
Jammeh’s former Interior Minister Ousman Sonko is being held by Swiss authorities for the tortures, killings and human rights abuses in detention centers under his watch.
Regional troops deployed to Gambia arrested at least five former presidential guards soldiers including a military general, Bora Colley, who headed Jammeh’s paramilitary hit squad and detention centers.
(Reporting and Writing by Sam Phatey; Contribution and Editing by Sainey MK Marenah)