By FATOUMATTA SAIDYKHAN
The government of the Gambia has on Wednesday May 25, 2022 releases the white paper of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) which was well received by many but not without caution in the implementation process.
Speaking at the launching of the paper, governments spokesperson, Ebrima G. Sankareh gave a rundown of the TRRC white paper.
He added that the 9 NIA officers would be prosecuted for the murder of Solo Sandeng who was arrested during a protest and died in state custody on April 14, 2016 and other United Democracy Party (UDP) supporters.
He said judgment is expected to be delivered in due course, the government will also charged Yankuba Touray with the murder of Ousman Koro Ceesay who was murdered while serving as finance minister under President Yahya Jammeh on June 22, 1995.
Dawda A. Jallow Attorney General and Minister of Justice, in his remarks at the occasion stated that the July 22nd Arch will be renamed the Never Again Memorial Arch and all the adversely mentioned people will be terminated from their responsibilities sooner
Sanna Sabally, former Vice Chairman of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) junta was granted an amnesty but was rejected together with former Vice President Dr. Isatou Njie Saidy by the government.
According to the Justice Minister, former President Yahya Jammeh will face justice for all the atrocities he committed, while it was recommended by government that the Director General of the NIA Mr. Ousman Sowe not to be prosecuted him but banned him from holding public office.
He disclosed that the government has granted Malick Jatta and Omar Oya Jallow amnesty because they might be useful for the prosecution of other perpetrators to face justice.
Despite often being critical of President Adama Barrow’s manner of governance some members of the civil society welcomed the government’s acceptance of the lion share of the TRRC recommendation.
Good position paper
Madi Jobarteh, a renowned Gambian human rights activist and a leading voice in the advocacy for accountability and transparency said the white paper is generally a good position paper in that it upheld most of the recommendations for prosecution, rehabilitation, reparations and memorialization.
He observed that the paper also accepted lot of recommendations relating to legal and institutional reforms.
However, he noted that there are also many areas in which either recommendation are rejected such as the cases of Ousman Sowe and Yankuba Sonko while others are left hanging.
“Above all, I expected the white paper would set timelines for each recommendation. For some recommendations it did state how it would carry them out. I wish this was done for each and every recommendation,” he opined.
Implementation daunting but important
Pa Samba Jow, also a Gambian human rights activist based in the United States said Wednesday was a good a good day for justice and against impunity.
In Jow’s own words: “Most us were very skeptical of what this government would do, especially after the NPP alliance with the APRC. It is however very satisfying to the victims that the Barrow government has accepted almost all the TRRC recommendations.”
He described the next stage of full implementation of the recommendations as the most daunting, yet important phase of this process.
He pointed out that the President and his government deserve commendations for this monumental undertaking, particularly the former and current Attorney Generals.
“They’ve shown resolve and commitment for justice. The whole struggle against Jammeh was for one principal thing: Justice!! We will continue to ensure that Justice is done. Yahya Jammeh and his criminal syndicate will be accorded something that they have denied Gambians for twenty-two years, free and impartial trial. This is the day of reckoning for Jammeh and the Gambian people. We are elated that finally, the many victims of Jammeh’s tyranny will have justice.”
He hoped that this day will serve as a reminder to all and sundry that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
Call for transparency
Muhammed S. Bah, president of Gambia Press Union (GPU) believed that the white paper it progressive, seeing government implementing over 90% of the recommendations from the TRRC.
“However, we are looking forward to a more transparent process during the implementation. I also suggest government to fast track the reparations process, because victims are definitely in need of support right now,” he admonished.
According to Bah, he think government is on track, I wish to see the recommendations on the institutional and legal reforms, expressing his desire to see a new constitution, which will be progressive to help usher into the third republic.
“We also want to see justice for victims.”
The TRRC was established through an Act of National Assembly and process from the announcement of the commission to its launch lasted from 20 July 2017 to 15 October 2018.
The TRRC Act provides for the establishment of the historical record of the nature, causes and extent of violations and abuses of human rights committed during the period July 1994 to January 2017 and to consider the granting of reparation of victims.
The main objectives of the TRRC, pursuant to Section 13 of the Act, are to create an impartial historical record of violations and abuses of human rights from July 1994 to January 2017, in order to promote healing and reconciliation, respond to the needs of the victims, address impunity, and prevent a repetition of the violations and abuses suffered by making recommendations for the establishment of appropriate preventive mechanisms including institutional and legal reforms.
It also aims to establish and make known the fate or whereabouts of disappeared victims, provide victims an opportunity to relate their own accounts of the violations and abuses suffered and grant reparations to victims in appropriate cases.