Ms. Houria Es-Slami, Chair-Rapporteur of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance said the perpetrators of past rights violations should not be given amnesty.
“No amnesty should be given to the perpetrators,” Houria Es-Slami said.
Ms. Es-Slami made these statements during a press conference at the end of a week long visit to the country. The Press Conference was held at the UN House in Cape Point.
The UN Working Group Rapporteur told journalist about the visits they made to the State Central Prisons at Mile 2, grave sites at Tanji, Tintiba Forest and Kanilai, the birthplace of the former president. She said they have received information of mass graves in different locations particularly the one in Yundum Barracks.
Ms. Houria Es-Slami explained the need for a lab to identify the dead bodies exhume, saying there are reports of new identification of mass graves. She talked about the testimonies and complaints from families members of those who disappeared. She said the families of the victims like all other families in the world are requesting for the same thing.
“The first thing they request is the truth of what happened to their loved ones. They want to recover their bodies to give them proper burials. They want justice,” she pointed out.
The UN Working Group Rapporteur also highlighted the poor conditions at the State Central Prisons of Mile 2 in Banjul. She talked about the conditions of overcrowding and mental state of some of the prisoners. She said some of the prisoners were detained for more than 5-7 years without being taken to court while there are foreigners detained without informing their families.
“This prison should be dismantle as soon as possible,” she stressed.
Houria Es-Slami emphasised the need for transitional justice mechanism, saying the Gambia should take its own approach because there was no war or genocide like the case of other countries particularly the Rwanda and South African cases. She urge the need to consult the people to know what is on their mind rather than rushing for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Meanwhile, she said a final report on the visit will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2018.