Women of Substance

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Pa Malick Faye and international protection

by Lamin J Darbo ,UK

Since his sudden and unceremonious dismissal as Managing Director, Pa Malick Faye (Pa Malick) must have been dealing with the acute conundrum of the lie he lived all these years as a staffer of the pro-government Daily Observer (DO) newspaper.

In its heyday, it was such a thorn in the flesh of the utterly corrupt and wholly incompetent PPP government it was not uncommon for MPs who doubled as Cabinet Ministers to severely castigate the DO on the floor of the House. In his Journey for Justice, Hassan B Jallow, former Attorney General and Minster of Justice, viewed the DO as “subversive”. These were the days when this revolutionary and professional newspaper fulfilled the Fourth’s calling as a check on the drivers of public power, a milieu that arguably ended with the early years of the erudite Sheriff Bojang.

What replaced Sheriff at the helm was sorry through and through as the DO assumed its regrettable and now familiar role of government mouthpiece. It was a fall from the pinnacle to the gutters and this was not entirely a factor that Sheriff’s successors were all incapable. His editorial and managerial progeny included people capable of great output in the true tradition of journalism but no one watching the DO could be in any doubt the underpinning philosophy at this once great institution has completely altered from checking the drivers of public power to glorifying their every act and pronouncement. Ownership in one word!

It was in this climate of “no talent necessary” that Pa Malick chanced on the great fortune of pinnacle appointment as Managing Director. In the culture then and today prevalent at the DO, the now disgraced boss needed no training in the workings of the paper vis-a-vis the expectations of Board level management, and beyond.

Because of his ethical antecedents – perverse and indifferent editorialising, sanitised reporting, internal power struggles, trivialising the political opposition, etc - Pa Malick is fully aware that public sympathy for him is extremely thin. It was a trade off he accepted from the onset, and I don’t suppose this state of affairs, including public scorn, present any surprises for Pa Malick Indeed, some of his detractors are of the view his antecedents either exclude, or should exclude him from international protection

On the evidence as currently available, it is not an accurate contention that Pa Malick lies outside the ambit of international protection as far as the 1951 Refugee Convention (the Convention), and its amending 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (the Protocol). The pertinent law on refugee status does not exclude on merely unpleasant personal antecedents.

In explicit language, Article 1 (A) (2) of the Convention states that “the term “refugee” shall apply to any person who:

(2) As a result of events occurring before 1 January 1951 and owing to well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it”.

Considering its restricted ambit, and the persistence of refugee-producing conditions, Article 1(2) of the Protocol removed the geographic (Europe) and time (01 January 1951) limitations of the Convention. The documents are now truly universal and applies to any person who comes under 1 (A) (2) of the Convention, as amended by 1 (2) of the Protocol.

For Pa Malick to be refused resettlement as a refugee, he must fall for exclusion under one or more prongs of Article 1 (F) of the Convention:

“The provisions of this Convention shall not apply to any person with respect to whom there are serious reasons for considering that:

(a) he has committed a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity, as defined in the international instruments drawn up to make provision in respect of such crimes;

(b) he has committed a serious non-political crime outside the country of refuge prior to his admission to that country as a refugee;

(c) he has been guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Applying the relevant law to the known facts around Pa Malick, the contention that he qualifies for protection under the Convention, and Protocol, is quite compelling. Even factoring the rumours around the Chief Ebrima Manneh (Chief Manneh) affair, Pa Malick remains eligible. He was not a law enforcement officer, and there was no suggestion he personally abducted or “arrested” Chief Manneh. What alleged role he played in the affair was far short of criminal complicity in whatever happened to Chief Manneh.  

If merely working for the DO is criminal, some of Pa Malick’s detractors are wholly unqualified to castigate him. Unpleasantness is not coextensive with criminality and working for the DO is not remotely “contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations”. In light of the manner he lost his job and the evident adverse post-flight interest in him, there is no question what his plight would be if the hostile boundary of his native Gambia is his current abode.

For anyone intent on opposing any prospective application for international protection by Pa Malick, I encourage you to peruse the governing international law as applied by municipal jurisdictions with a view to making an informed decision as to whether you are not wasting your time in embarking on a task that has no likelihood of success.

As long as Professor Jammeh’s government remains in power, Pa Malick is a refugee under the Convention as amended by the Protocol. As they say, the mind is far superior to the mouth. His incessant battle with conscience is enough suffering for the lie he embraced and lived all these years.

Lamin J Darbo