Gambia: Youths ‘Arrested’ for Playing Football

Reliable information received by Foroyaa has it that 25 young people, including children, have been arrested by the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) in Sukuta, in the Niani District of Central River Region (CRD), on Monday 12 and Tuesday 13 August 2013, purportedly for playing football to mark the end of the Muslim “Koriteh” feast. They were taken to the Governor’s office and later to the remand wing in Janjanbureh.

According to sources from the village, it is a tradition now that after every feast, the villagers would organize a football match between the young people and the middle aged. The source claimed that after this “Koriteh” feast, while the villagers were at the field, the Alkalo of the village, J.J. Kanteh, called the district Chief and informed him about the football match taking place at his village and the chief in turn informed the Governor.

According to sources, the villagers were surprised by the fact that when these people were arrested, they were first taken to the Governor’s office instead of the police station. When contacted, Commissioner Ebrima Cham, the Police Commissioner of the Central River Region, confirmed the arrest of the 22 young people in Sukuta Niani, adding that they were arrested for playing football. According to him, there was an executive order that there should not be any football match during the rainy season and that these young people disobeyed the executive order. He said this is the reason why they were arrested and detained.