Gambia: Reconciliation Begins Hearings

Victims of human rights violations during the 22year-reign of Yahya Jammeh have two years to recount their stories.

Gambians at last have the opportunity to tell the public how their rights were violated between 1994 and 2016 during the regime of Captain Yahya Jammeh as the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, TRRC, established to look into abuses during the 22-year rule, began sitting on January 7, 2018. The TRCC, it must be noted, is not a tribunal.

The Commission is sitting in Dunes Resort, a former luxury beach hotel in the capital, Banjul, said to be among the over 180 properties owned by the ex-President but now confiscated. The 11 commissioners are expected to listen to hundreds of testimonies within a period of two years, agency reports said. Led by Dr Baba Galleh Jallow, the commissioners are assisted by 70 workers tasked with the "challenging task of truthseeking, justice, and healing."

A 12-month work plan has been developed, indicating the number of possible hearings to be conducted during 2019, the specific areas of focus for the hearings, and the number of projected outreach activities for the year, Jallow explained.

Similarly, subsidiary committees covering human rights violations; amnesty; reparations; child protection and sexual and gender-based violence; and reconciliation, have been set up.

Meanwhile, the business of evidence-gathering is continuing, as TRRC urges victims of alleged human rights violations since 1994 when then Lieutenant Jammeh seized power to come forward and "share their statements." Some 17 statement-takers have been talking to people already identified by the TRRC.

Commissioners have been assigned to at least two committees, all handling different aspects of complaints. Dr Baba Galleh Jallow last November explained that those to appear before the Commission will also include people mentioned in the testimonies to be given. "We are not presuming that anyone is guilty of anything as of now.

Everything will come out from the evidence that will be tendered before the Commission. But during the investigations, if people are named, they will be called to appear before the Commission," Baba Galleh Jallow stated.

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