Gambia’s new government has vowed that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission with appropriate reparations for victims will be set up within the next six months and public hearings will be expected to commence by the end of the year.
This was revealed by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Tambedou on Thursday, March 22, during a Press Conference at his Ministry, to provide information about some of the activities of the Ministry of Justice over the past few weeks.
“We will need to adapt the lessons learnt from other TRCs to our particular context in The Gambia” he said.
According to him, consultations are currently taking place to identify appropriate persons of high moral character and integrity from a cross-section of our social, cultural and religious communities for appointment as commissioners to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He said an appropriate location for the hearing will also be identified.
“A public information and awareness campaign shall also be launched soon to start discussions on national television and private radio stations throughout the country about the purpose and objectives of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission” he noted.
He reminded Gambians that they must also be careful so as not to undermine the President’s desire to move the country forward by encouraging open discussions about the past and fostering national reconciliation through the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He said any action, particularly in these early days he said, must be geared towards achieving that objective.
“Any action that runs contrary to this spirit at this moment in time is both unwise and potentially dangerous. As leaders, we will have to make some hard choices as difficult decisions form part of the burden of leadership. We must lead by example and at times, even lead public opinion in the supreme national interest.
Justice Minister Tambedou made it clear that no new criminal case involving crimes allegedly committed by the former government will be handled by the Ministry unless they are thoroughly and comprehensively investigated, and until the Ministry of Justice is also part in terms of its capacity, resources and logistical needs, and only after the approval of Cabinet.
“As at this moment, we are a long way from that state of trial readiness. The working conditions of the Ministry must be improved first before we can engage in such highly complex and demanding exercise” he concluded.