21 August 2017

Gambia: 'Neither Politicians, Foreign Judges Shall Constitute TRRC,'Justice Minister

Photo: Le Pays
Former president Yahyah Jammeh .

Mr. Abubacarr Tambadou, Attorney General and Minister of Justiceresponded affirmatively that neither politicians nor foreign judges will spearhead the operations of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission. Mr. Tambedou made this disclosure in Bwiam, West Coast Region, during day five of the nationwide tour of the TRRC sensitization team.

Minister Tambadou who was responding to one Arba Bojang, said the commission will address internal affairs and this has automatically prevented his ministry or government to involve private individuals or politicians. Mr. Bojang's question to the Minister was like an appeal for government to absorb fellow citizens rather than outsiders, in the commission. The Minister added: "You will get to know the members of the commission whenever it's constituted because it will be announced on the national media, for all to know."

Prior to the Minister's statement, the governor of the Region, Ebrima Mballow urged both communities of Bwiam and Brikama to desist from spreading false information against anyone and further appealed to them to fear God and speak the truth and nothing but the truth.

Mr. Mballow informed his people that the meeting is significant and timely as it is meant to hear from them who have been traumatized for the past 22 years. He said the setting of the Commission will ensure that all human rights violations will be exposed and addressed by the commission; that this cannot be done in isolation. He finally urged the people of the region to come up with their recommendations for the establishment of the commission.

The majority of the people in the region are of the view that the commission should be decentralized because there might be people who can't have access to reach Banjul.

Mr. Yusupha Bojang from the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE), informed the gathering that among the functions of the commission will include investigations into atrocities or human rights violation meted on the people by the former regime from July1994 to January 2017, and how such atrocities occurred, where and when they occurred respectively.

According to Mr. Bojang the information gathered concerning the brutality and other related matters caused by Jammeh and his allies, shall also be inculcated in the history books for the future generations to ponder. "It is also the intention of the commission to compensate those affected and also implement the phenomenon of "one Gambia one People one nation," he said.

The Commission after its findings, would compile a report and consequently advise the President and also submit the report to the National Assembly for it to be assented to before it finally becomes law.

Reactions on the Establishment of TRRC in WCR:

Mr. Tumani B Sambou, Wassadu Ward Councillor in Foni Jarrol, said he's pleased with the government and the Ministry of Justice for the good initiative; that it is prudent and timely to have the commission to avoid retaliation because some victims and perpetrators are living together. "If the commission is not established, some people will revenge either directly or indirectly and it could be worse," he warned. He continued: "I urge government that justice must be seen to prevail after establishing the commission and let the law take it's cause on those found wanting."

Mr. Alieu Gibba, Councillor of Somita Ward in the Foni Berefet district appealed to government to appoint those who have the capability to reconcile people; that anyone occupying a seat in the Commission should desist and shun tribalism and have respect for all and sundry. Mr. Saikou Sanyang of Bwiam was of the view that people with religious background should be included in the Commission while Alh. Baba Ceesay of the same village, was of the view that those who were involved in gross human rights violations, shouldn't be considered in the Commission.

Mama Kujabi and Isatou Badjie urged the people of Foni to speak the truth and desist from mere suspicion. However they were also concerned about human rights violations that occurred after Jammeh seized power. "Before you solve past problems try to solve current ones," opined Isatou Badjie of Dobong village. Mrs. Badjie further opined that competent, honest and god fearing women should also be considered in the commission.

Alh. Dembo Santang Bojang of Brikama, expressed gratitude to government and the Ministry of Justice, for coming up with a Commission and implored on them not to compromise the truth; that the commission if established, should desist from discrimination as no one is above the law. "Those constituting the commission should be straight forward people who will apply truth and justice," the former chief said.

Pa Manneh, the Nyambai Ward Councilor, warned that people should be careful because the objectives of the Commission are for them to unite; that in forming this Commission, it's important to consider the magnitude of rights violated because this could easily backfire.

Mr. Dodou Darboe contributed that each region should be represented in the commission; that women and youths should also be included; that Justice should availed to those who deserve it.

Others were of the view that staff from the Ministry of Justice or Judiciary, Police officers and even the unemployed, should be part of the Commission for sake of transparency, accountability, equity, tranquility and clarity.

According to one of the speakers, the alleged rebels in the CasamanceRegion are within the midst of the citizens and the majority of them own properties including vehicles plying the route on a daily basis. Mrs. Isatou Cham of Sukuta Sannehmentereng Ward, said she knows some people affected by the former regime. "I will relay the message to them to enable them come forward and narrate their ordeals," she promised.

Kaddy Sanyang of Old Yundum Constituency and Kaddy Faal Bojang expressed similar sentiments. For others, the TRRC is long overdue and it should operate hand in glove with the legal panel. "I urge you to execute your functions without fear or favour, affection or ill will. Do not undermine your dignity and integrity because we will not allow this government to fail," were the words of Paramount Chief, Alh. Demba Sanyang.

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