The same question was asked for Sanna Sabally, the erstwhile Vice President of the AFPRC, by Da One in an opinion article published in The Gambia Times.
Edward’s testimony presents a different set of challenges and opportunities for justice to be seen to have been done for those killed, maimed and or scarred for life.
Unlike Sanna, Edward has suffered no physical torture or false imprisonment by events he helped put in motion. According to his own testimony, he was the primary architect of the coup d’etat that toppled the regime of Dawda Kairaba Jawara.
It gets complicated from thereon. Edward denied ever directly directing any rights abuses; the killings, the tortures, the rapes etc, or personally carrying out the afore mentioned. Only in few instances, where his presence does not put him in legal jeopardy, did he admit to collective responsibility. This of course presents the lead council a technical dilemma for the TRRC is not a prosecuting body. Establishing what is common knowledge became a nightmare.
Those eagerly waiting to hear someone finally admit to why and how the late Ousman Koro Ceesay was so brutally snatched away from his family were in for a big disappointment. Edward callously maintained he has no part in the bludgeoning to death of Koro and the inhumane incineration of his remains.
The burning question for many now is: what next?
Arresting and formerly instituting a legal criminal proceeding will be music to the ears of many Gambians who think such a state undertaking will either squeeze the truth out of Edward Singhateh or punish him accordingly for a crime we all believed he has committed. And rightly so. But this might not be an at all smart move if current history has taught us anything. Yankuba Touray and Fatoumatta Jahumpa Ceesay’s case is the lesson in mind. Not forgetting JCB Mendy. Out of the desire to render swift justice, time and resources were wasted and credibility was sacrificed.
The result is still haunting the state legal apparatus.
To avoid such a miss again, the minister of justice and attorney general need to go back to the drawing table to make sure those who have blood on their hands in the Jammeh era and are unrepentant and misleading The Gambian people, are made to pay for their crimes. The families of those lost souls deserve to have a closure to their decades of agony and trauma.
I propose the tabling of an act of parliament to set up a criminal tribunal to prosecute the top echelon of the A(F)PRC for the human rights abuses of the twenty two years of terror that was visited on the Gambian people.
Just testifying for testifying’s sake cannot be a criterial for amnesty in murder, torture and maiming cases. Truthfully testifying cannot also be a criteria for blanket amnesty, even though truthfulness and remorse should be factors in determining the scope and manner of punishment.
That’s my take.
Yours in the service of The Gambia and Afrikka, I remain.
The writer, Da One, is a Gambian based in Germany.