My Position on the Public Hearings of the TRRC
Kudos to the government of The Gambia for establishing the TRRC. And, thanks to the appointed Commissioners and staff of this important national institution in taking the bold steps to initiate the maiden public hearing of victims testimonies.
Truth be told! We all know what transpired during the 22 years of the APRC regime under Jammeh. Wounds are still afresh in our minds particularly victims and those who lost dear/loved ones. And, we all know those culpable and who participated in the dark days of the regime’s torture chambers, arbitrary arrests, forceful disappearances, detention without trials, raping of our women and the extrajudicial killings/executions. In as much I want the truth to be exposed and determined, I do not support the sittings of the TRRC to be publicly televised. Many reasons could be advanced as per my position. From an anthropological perspective, it has the potential risk of opening old wounds that will ache hearts and could possibly become the bedding seeds of animosity, discord, hate crimes, fueling tribalism and socially weakening the conceptual dynamics of ‘One Gambia, One People, and One Country.’ By and large, the adopted mechanism of airing out the victim’s testimonies to share their tragic experiences is not good in nurturing our nascent democracy given the fact that we are transitioning from dictatorship to democracy. Equally to note is that we are a small, inter-connected and diversely-related community of people and tribes. There is possible suppression of the truth. Also, victims could over-exaggerate the ordeal of their testimonies. All of this isn’t important but is critical to take note and caution given the nature of the newfound Gambian characters on excessive lies and deception.
In building a formidable path for a restorative transitional justice system that will tend on old wounds for the victims, I recommend the hearings be done in camera and then later the findings on the truth and proffered recommendations for reconciliation and reparations be presented to the public. This will avail the perpetrators the opportunity of sharing their stories to the public, the conditions that made them take actions, seek forgiveness and start anew in building The Gambia We Want and avoiding similar occurrences in the near future. Above all, the government of The Gambia must take full responsibility to provide assistance to the victim’s families, particularly those whose parents or loved ones were killed or brutally murdered by the rogue former government with medical, educational and other life-line financial support. May God temper our hearts to forgive and guide the process through the cause for fidelity to justice, objective reasoning, and conscience, and not on the binary lenses of politicizing and using it as a punishment center.