Gambia’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubacarr Tambadou has Friday, August 4, launched the National Consultations on the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission at the Djembe Beach Hotel, Kololi.
Minister Tambadou in his keynote address said the country must know the truth of human rights violations of the former regime of Yahya Jammeh who has ruled the tiny West African country with impunity for the past 22 years.
The Justice Minister said the government has taken his ministry as a focal point to launch the commission and its implementations with the broad objective to obtained the views and opinions of the Gambian public about the commission and sensitise the general populace on the concepts, issues, rationales and objectives of the commission..
“To maximize the effectiveness of our consultations, we shall include all the key stakeholders in this process,” he asserted.
Minister Tambadou said the emphasis of the government is to ensure that the processes and mechanisms put in place are inclusive, extensive and driven by the people in the hope that it will guarantee a transparent, credible and effective outcome.
“The process of the national consultations will no doubt lay a solid foundation for reconciliation in our communities broken and shattered by the atrocities of the last two decades,” Minister Tambadou asserted.
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice who was a former prosecutor at a genocide tribunal said the consultations would bring together representatives of a cross section of Gambian communities including youth, women and children organisations, civil societies, religious communities, media, and staff of the ministry of justice who shall form the core team for the consultations. He stressed that the meetings will be open to the general public.
“The principal objective of the truth, reconciliation and reparations commission shall be to create an impartial historical records of the violations and abuses of human rights from July 1994 to January 2017,” he pointed out.
“We must know the truth as a first step to promote healing and reconciliation, responding to needs of the victims, addressing impunities and putting in place mechanisms to prevent recurrence of the past violations,” he added.
Minister Tambadou said the commission will seek to make known the fate of disappeared victims among other things. It will also give opportunity to the victims to relate the account of abuses suffered and recognized the sufferings to restore the dignity of the victims through granting reparations in appropriate cases.
“The Commission shall submit to the president a comprehensive report which will set out its activities and findings base on factual and objective information,” he said.
Minister Tambadou further stated that the commission would make recommendations to the president with regard to creation of institutions conducive to the development of stable and democratic society as well as the institutional, legislative and administrative measures which shall be taken to prevent abuses and violations of human rights in the future. The commission, he said shall recommend the granting of amnesty of persons in appropriate cases. It will be mandated to enquire into all manners of human rights abuses under former president Jammeh from 22 July 1994.
“This is not only about the recent victims of the junglers but it is for every single victim throughout the 22 years of former president Jammeh,” Justice Minister said.
The Minister said they might not be able to prosecute every single perpetrator but they must be encouraged to at least tell the truth about the abuses in a manner normal criminal proceedings would not permit. He said it will take different forms including guarantees against future prosecutions in appropriate cases.
“Perpetrators who does not come forward to tell the truth before the commission, will face prosecution should there be credible evidences of their involvement in any abuses,” he interjected.
The Minister reiterated that the commission will be guided by international laws in granting amnesty. He called on the support of the international donor partners.
The UN Resident Coordinator, Madam Ade Mamonyane Lekeotje commended the TRRC and the Gambian people for their patience.
“I’m confident the victims will be given the opportunity to express their problems,” UN Coordinator asserted.
She emphasised the importance of dialogue in the process.
Meanwhile, there were several stakeholders including victims and families of the victims present at the launching of the commission.