False! ‘Gambia is the Most Secure Country in Sub-region’

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Dr Ismaila Ceesay, Gambia's Information Minister. Photo taken from The Standard Newspaper
Dr Ismaila Ceesay, Gambia's Information Minister. Photo taken from The Standard Newspaper

By Mustapha K. Darboe

Since his appointment as the new information minister, Dr Ismaila Ceesay, has increased the government’s engagement with the media through various media platforms.

He has appeared on several media platforms to share information on a number of issues affecting the people.

Claim

In an appearance on popular Kerr Fatou show on April 25 (1h, 49s), the information minister claims: “Gambia is the most secure country in the sub-region…”. He was responding to claims of perceived rising crime in the country.

While the Minister failed to name the source of this claim, on April 29, the Ministry shared on its Facebook page a publication based on the Global Peace Index ranking Gambia as third safest country in Africa.

Fact-check 

The information minister Ceesay did not provide the basis for his claims. However, on April 29— barely 4 days after his interview with Kerr Fatou was aired— the Facebook page of his ministry shared the result of the survey of the Global Peace Index as a proof of how safe Gambia is.

The Global Peace Index, which started some 17 years ago, ranks 163 countries in order of peacefulness. The Index, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), relies on a number of indicators including crime rates, political stability, and societal harmony.

While Gambia has done well on the Index’s reports released for 2021, 2022 and 2023, it was never the best in the sub-region (West Africa). In its latest 2023 ranking, Gambia was ranked 59— a decline from its 2022 ranking which was 45.

In 2021, Gambia was ranked 53 out of 163 countries, with a rating “high” in state of peacefulness. Ghana did better at 38 and Sierra Leone at 46. In 2022, Gambia was ranked 45, behind Ghana – ranked 40. The country lost about 14 places in the ranking to 59 in 2023, trailing Senegal, Ghana and Sierra Leone.

And though the country improved significantly on the 2023 Security Threat Index published by GlobalEconomy.com, it was still trailing Ghana, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

While this is not comparing Gambia to any other country, according to the 2023 Afrobarometer survey, public perception over insecurity has risen significantly among the population.

Crime and security ranks fifth among the most important problems that Gambians want their government to address, up from 10th place in 2018 (Afrobarometer, 2023).

Verdict: 

  • Though Gambia does well on the Global Peace Index, steadily with a rating “high” in the state of peacefulness, it has not been ranked the safest in the Sub-region for the past 3 years.
  • Gambia’s 2023 ranking is also a decline, 14 places, from its last year ranking on the Index, from 45 in 2022 to 59 in 2023.
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