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Communal Complexity Conflict and Security in Gambia

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Understanding and Preventing Community Violence


The chapter examines the history of conflict in post-independence Gambia and what it reveals about the national security capacity of this small country right up to the contemporary period. While Gambia has historically been a low crime society, the primary threat to the safety of citizens has come from those who have sought to seize political and governmental power via force. The successful coup which put Yahyah Jammeh regime in power led to the degradation of the police and other key security institutions of the state which has contributed to contemporary Gambia’s fragility. The long-term damage to the police institution is particularly worrying as deep-seated tensions in society, caused largely by poverty and the poor economic performance of government, have contributed to a steadily increasing crime rate and citizens becoming more willing to seek justice through their own hands. Evidence of communal violence exacerbated by migrant workers, and the controversial presence of new Chinese businesses, are volatile ingredients in an already taunt social relations that threaten to expose and challenge the capacity of the state and its institutions.

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    Beakanyang – Posts | Facebook. Accessed 24 August 2021

  2. 2.

    Despite the name Gambia Regiment being used to describe the soldiers of the African Frontier Forces, colonial reports describe them as a company which is more in keeping with the actual number of soldiers deployed.

  3. 3.

    The quality of police human resources was confirmed in a meeting Dr. Stanislas had with the Inspector General of Police in May 2021.

  4. 4.

    Information ascertained through verbal and written communications with former Gambian police officers

  5. 5.

    See Blaxit YouTube Channel.

  6. 6.

    This video illustrates how confident criminals are in breaking into property with no fear of being caught by the police, and the fear that women have.

  7. 7.

    Dr. Stanislas wrote the new Inspector General of Police and raised his concerns about the lack of baseline research to support his ideas of reform after they met in May 2021 to discuss SSR. To date he has received no reply.

  8. 8.

    Caribbean countries, such as St Lucia, stopped publishing the crime rate for similar reasons.

  9. 9.

  10. 10.

    Dr. Stanislas spoke at a meeting held in Gambia in February 2021 about policing and crime attended by black people from the Diaspora and Gambian returnees many of whom had bought property who reported the large numbers of burglary and break in being experienced as new target groups for criminals. However, it was reported that local Gambians are also subject to these types of crimes. Given the poor policing and record keeping, the real level of crime in Gambia is unknown.

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Stanislas, P., Chongan, E. (2022). Communal Complexity Conflict and Security in Gambia. In: Albrecht, J.F., den Heyer, G. (eds) Understanding and Preventing Community Violence. Springer, Cham.

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