Gambia’s Parliament on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill that will give birth to the country’s much anticipated Truth, Reconciliation, Reparation and Commission (TRRC). The Commission has been mandated to investigate past human rights violations, which occurred during dictator Yahya Jammeh’s rule. “The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation bill 2017; is envisaged to be an important vehicle; large scale institutional legal and administrative reforms in the Gambia. At the end of its operations; the commission shall submit a report to the president of the Republic; the report will contain the findings and recommendations of the commission, which are expected to strengthen and consolidate our broadening democracy,” Attorney General and Minister of Justice told MPS.
The former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh has been accused of committing crimes against humanity. Witnesses, victims, and former loyalists of the dictator complicit in the alleged gross violations have been lined up to testify before the TRRC.
Mr. Jammeh and his family living in exile in Equatorial Guinea. Some personnel of Jammeh’s assassin team known as the jungullars are also at large. They are said to be residing in Guinea Conakry.
Justice Minister Baa Tambadou has vowed that crimes committed under Jammeh’s reign must be investigated and those linked to heinous crimes must face criminal charges.
“Impunity should not and must not be encouraged and therefore those responsible for these abuses should be prosecuted. On the other hand, the view expressed and in many cases by victims; that the path to healing and reconciliation in our country is the establishment of the truth first and foremost and both views are of course legitimate,” Tambadou said.
Mr. Tambadou and his staff in the recent past travelled to Sierra Leone and South Africa to study how TRRC was conducted by the two countries. Sierra Leone has experienced decade long war, characterized by massive lost of lives and properties, while South Africa was under apartheid rule for decades.
According to Mr. Tambadou, the Commission will make recommendations for victims of human rights violations to be compensated. “This bill also seeks to establish and made known the fate and whereabouts of disappeared victims; provide opportunity to victims to relate their own account of violations and abuses suffered as well as grant reparations to victims in appropriate cases. Victims of human rights violations have right to reparations as recognized under international law and laws of the Gambia,” he said.
The TRRC bill was passed without any objection from members of the National Assembly. Members hailed the government’s decision to avail justice to the victims of human rights violation under Jammeh’s rule.
“It has been moved and seconded that the bill entitled the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Bill 2017; be read the second time and considered; those in favor please said I; those not in favor please said no; So, the I’s have it,” said Speaker Marian Jack Denton.
The US based Human Rights Watch has called for a thorough investigation into Jammeh’s alleged past crimes against the Gambian people. It also noted that people who are going to be part of the TRRC Commission should be people of unimpeachable character.
Identifying the right commissioners who will form the commission, said Human Rights Watch, will be essential for the truth commission to be viewed as independent, impartial and competent.
During the debate session before the National Assembly, some MPS recommended for a Secretariat to be set up for the TRRC. This, they said will avail members of the public to access members of the TRRC Commission.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai
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