FOROYAA Newspaper (Serrekunda)

Gambia: GAMCOTRAP- an End to a Long Journey for Justice!

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We give thanks and appreciation to Almighty Allah Subhanahu watalla, our families, friends, partners and well wishers for being with us all through this tribulation that Allah has bestowed upon us. We give glory to the highest, the king of Kings, Giver and Reckoner of who does what. The Lord Almighty has redeemed us from all darkness and brought the light to the public that we are not guilty of the false allegation.

We were requested by the National Drug Enforcement Agency/National Intelligence Agency to report to the Police Headquarters in Banjul. After a long wait without any explanation, we were led into a cage at the police station where we spent the night on a mattress infested with lice and bugs. The following day after 2pm, we were charged at the Banjul Magistrate's Court and denied bail on the grounds that we are influential women and would interfere with the investigations. We were taken to the Central Prisons in mile two and remanded for nine good days.

We were arraigned on the 12th October 2010 on two counts of theft and fraudulent accounting by the State and prosecuted for these allegations for 25 months in 66 appearances in the Banjul Magistrate's Court. Before then we were made to be reporting to the NDEA at Holgam in Kanifing every week for six months before our trial began.

As Rights Activists we went through the process without any interference and finally the truth emerged that both of us were not guilty and were acquitted and discharged by the presiding Magistrate Taiwo Ade Alagbe on the 12th of November 2012. Praise be to the Lord and thanks for upholding justice.

To Amie Bensouda and Co, GAMCOTRAP owes you gratitude for accepting to represent us especially in a case in which the State had interest. You have revealed your legal scholarship indeed a legal luminary of the finest class and a genre of your own. We commit you to the Lord of Lords.

To the International Community, International Observers and Human Rights Institutions all over the world we thank you for the concern and interest in seeing that justice is done.

To all the witnesses in this case, particularly the circumcisers from the rural areas we thank you for not only being astute and steadfast in bringing out the truth but also standing by it. This process has shown how successful our advocacy to eliminate FGM is.

We thank the public for their interest in following up the case from the beginning to the end and the media houses for relaying the court proceedings for the world to know what was going on.

To the members of the first investigation panel that GAMCOTRAP never knew until we met them during the interrogation and we never met them again until we heard about their dismissal after the submission of their findings. May Allah reward you and take you to higher heights for revealing the truth. We have no powers but GOD has and will recompense you for upholding the truth.

To our allies, development partners, institutions and activists all over the world, thank you.

We want to put in the record that we are very grateful to our partners including the Spanish NGOs who have supported the work of GAMCOTRAP in the fight against FGM and had successfully completed the projects and a dropping of the knife ceremony was organized to celebrate the circumcisers. This will remain in the history of the Gambia and we are proud to be associated with these projects. The projects were not meant for Isatou and Amie, they were meant to promote the health and well being of women and children and to protect them from harmful traditional practices. Our appreciation goes to the Region of Madrid and Asturias and other Spanish donors who made these projects successful through their funding.

GAMCOTRAP wants to inform the Spanish donors that we have not received the 10 million Dalasis approved for the second phase for the organization from Yolocamba Solidaridad which was meant to scale up our activities to eliminate FGM. We therefore urge the donors to our project to note that we have no obligation to account for such money which was never received.

This case has a lot of lessons for development practitioners to draw from. We want to put in record that GAMCOTRAP does not intend to engage in retributive justice but will go on with its work undeterred. For those who in one way or the other have a hand in this process, we leave all the things to Allah. We believe that it was the will of Allah and we must go through it. It is Allah who guided the process and made it what is it. It is Allah who interceded.

To our husbands, children and our relatives, we say walk with your heads high and be confident that your wives and parents are not thieves. We believe in women and children's rights and that is what we stand for. Female Genital Mutilation affects the bodily integrity and dignity of women. Children and women's rights should be respected, protected and promoted.

To the staff and volunteers of GAMCOTRAP, we say thank you for standing by the organization when many had doubt in what we stand for. You have proven that GAMCOTRAP is a legacy for the promotion and protection of women and children's rights.

WE FORGIVE AND PRAY THAT ALLAH WILL CONTINUE TO PROTECT THOSE WHO WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR HUMANITY.

Dr. Isatou Touray, Executive Director

Mrs. Amie Bojang-Sissoho,Programme Coordinator

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