Truth commission chair implores Gambians to be law abiding

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Dr. Lamin J. Sise, chairman of Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Committee (TRRC) of The Gambia

The chairman of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC), Dr. Lamin J. Sise has implored all Gambians to always abide by the rule of law and give peace and reconciliation a chance in our society.

He was speaking at the opening session of the TRRC’s sixth session hearing after the conclusion of its fifth session during which fifteen witnesses testified including women that brought the total number of witnesses who have testified before the commission to 72.

“In a subsequent hearing of the commission, unfortunately, a key witness who was among other things expected to provide more information on the Koro Ceesay incident refused to testify before the Commission, leading to his arrest and subsequent arraignment before the High Court to answer among other charges, contempt of the TRRC,” he noted.

The truth commission chair fervently hopes and pray that what happened here on Wednesday, June 26 involving Yankuba Touray will never happen again.

“We also hope that what happened at the Kairaba Police Station will not happen again. However angry or offended we feel, we should always endeavor to remain calm, and adhere to the rule of law.”

He urged all to respect human rights and the rule of law, however challenging or inconvenient the situation, adding that the sixth session starts today, Monday, July 8 and will end on Thursday, July 25, 2019.

He said they expect to hear testimonies on the suppression of the freedom of the press and the related human rights violations involving the media and individual journalists as we embark upon the sixth session.

Dr. Sise added that the hearing of the fifth session focused mainly on the 1996 Denton Bridge incident involving security forces and UDP supporters, the arrest and detention of members of the UDP – both male and female and the circumstances surrounding the murder of the late Minister of Finance, Ousman Koro Ceesay.

He explained that witness testimonies revealed at the commission by security forces of gross violation and abuses of human rights of the victims, stating that the violations and abuses perpetrated at Denton Bridge by the security forces included torture and degrading treatment.

He recalled that witness testimonies during the last session also shed further light on the circumstances surrounding the murder of Mr. Ousman Koro Ceesay.

He said the TRRC will also hear testimonies from persons adversely mentioned in previous hearings, expressing gratefulness to all witnesses who have so far testified before the Commission.

“We are especially grateful to those courageous and dignified women who, despite the odds, we are able to share their painful experience with the Commission and the general public. In testifying before the commission, these brave women not only educated us on their own personal plights, but also on the plight of their innocent families devastated by the act of lawlessness, wrongful detention, and state bullying of citizens which should never happen in any civilized society,” he pointed.

He reassured all victims and their families that the TRRC values their contribution to our work and that we will do everything in our power to ensure that all get justice, healing and the reparation they deserve, hoping that many more witnesses will come forward and assist the Commission in carrying out its mandate to create an impartial record of human rights violations and abuses during the period July 1994 to January 2017.

Dr. Sise further noted that Gambians and friends of The Gambia across the board have taken ownership of the TRRC process, and that many are stepping forward to offer much-needed support and solace to the victims of human rights violations and their families.

He emphasized the TRRC’s commitment to fulfilling its mandates to assist our dear country on this difficult path to justice, healing and reconciliation.

He concluded that the Commission cannot do this without the support and encouragement of the general public, craving the public’s continued support, understanding and prayers.

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