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Foni Kansala, NAM, Accuses Special Prosecutors and Special Accountability Bills of Discrimination and Explosive Impact

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Hon. Almamy Gibba, The National Assembly Member (NAM) for Foni Kansala Constituency 

By Ramatoulie Jawo 

Hon. Almamy Gibba, the National Assembly, representing Foni Kansala, voiced strong objections to the Special Prosecutors Bill and the Special Accountability Mechanism Bill, both of 2024. He labeled these bills as “volcanic” and discriminatory, arguing that they unfairly target individuals and are biased against certain groups. Hon. Gibba emphasized the need for justice to encompass all historical periods, not just the years from 1994 to 2017.

Gibba criticized the government’s approach, highlighting the need for a broader scope of justice that encompasses past regimes, including the era of President Jawara. He expressed concern that the bills target specific individuals and fail to address systemic issues affecting all Gambians. Additionally, he raised doubts about the fairness of appointments within these mechanisms, drawing parallels to alleged biases within the TRRC.

“These are the two bills that I term as a volcano. These bills are volcano, these bills are discriminatory, these bills are targeted individual bills, and these bills are ‘Batong Jola’ bills. Why I said so, is because we all believe and have seen that government is not a regime that passed from 1994 to 2017.  

“There was a regime before, for 30 good years plus. All these are issues that I believe, if a bill of this magnitude is off to stage the Special Prosecutor, I believe that, in honesty, if we are talking of justice, it should start from where we believe that we will wipe our tears together. Victims are victims; it does not matter from 1994 to 2017,” Hon. Gibba said. 

Honorable Gibba delivered these statements in the chambers of the National Assembly while discussing the merits and principles of the two bills.

These bills were presented to the legislators by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice under a presidential certificate of urgency.

He further expressed his belief that the government’s pursuit of justice should extend beyond the confines of 1994, avoiding limitations and discrimination.

“Why when the government came, they talked about functional whatever, but they didn’t talk about TRRC and I believe that part of this bill talks about appointments. We believe appointments are good if we Gambianize it, but the other fact is, am afraid we have seen the effects of TRRC. And am also putting others in fear again that we may see the same appointments with this Special Prosecutor’s office bill, where a second in command of the TRRC alleged that a particular tribe is the reason the TRRC is not going as it is expected because of a tribe. She did all the things that she could do and was muted and she was clapped as a champion,” Hon. Gibba said. 

Honorable Gibba emphasized that the two bills are among the most discriminatory ones observable within the Gambia.

“I believe that as Gambians, the way we should do, what it should take, and what we believe should be is to reflect on the past from Jawara’s regime till date. We work together in unison as people of one nation, but if we forget about the brutality that people have faced, and now only 1994 to 2017, what are we calling for? He asked.  Echoing these sentiments, Hon. Bakary Badjie of Foni Bintang Karanai criticized the government’s focus on the past, which he believes hinders national development. He questioned the lessons learned from other nations’ experiences with reconciliation and justice, pointing out the absence of prosecutorial intent in the TRRC’s mandate, which centers on truth, reconciliation, and reparation.

“The Gambia as a nation, since the emergence of the coalition government in 2017, they bent on looking back in trying to develop the nation, which has seriously distracted this new government. And since then, we have also set up Special Accountability Mechanism Bills. And now, we also have another bill, the Special Prosecutor’s Office Bill,” Hon. Badjie said. 

Hon. Badjie also argued that the establishment of such commissions is a financial drain during challenging economic times. He advocated for a focus on reconciliation, healing, and reparations for victims, rather than retrospective accountability that could foster internal conflict and impede progress.

“When I saw TRRC, it said to itself, Truth, Reconciliation, Reparation, Commission. So, in that TRRC, where is prosecution found? So, to prosecute means that you want to do another thing, but that is not found in the TRRC. We are talking about reconciliation. How do we reconcile as a nation? That is important for us to look at. How do we repatriate? That is something that we should work on. But since then, we have not worked on those principles,” he said.

He emphasized that no matter the scale of the challenge, national reconciliation remains achievable, advocating forgiveness as the key lesson to be learned.

“Setting up these commissions, I think, is a serious waste of money for our nation, and we are battling with an economic situation. I am against this in totality, and I want it to be known by all. We should know how to reconcile, how to heal, and how to repatriate the victims that we have agreed, like when we passed the reparation bill for victims. Those are things that we can always advocate for, And those are things that the Ministry of Justice should stand by,” Hon. Badjie said. 

Honorable Badjie criticized the government’s endeavors, asserting its incapacity to accomplish anything substantial. He attributed this to the government’s reliance on retrospection regarding the victims’ plight.

“This money, I will tell you, you cannot have it. The West will never give you anything of benefit. Whatever they are trying, is to inculcate what we call internal conflict among ourselves. And in the process, when we are fighting, they are taking what they want from us. Because our backwardness is their strength as a nation.

“So I am against this in totality, and I want every living being to come to know this. If we bend on setting this commission, mark me: after 2026, from here now until 2026, no development will come to you. Because you cannot be looking backwards and want to see what is in front,” Hon. Badjie said. Hon. Kebba Toumanding Sanneh of Foni Jarrol raised concerns about selective justice, highlighting the ongoing service and promotion of military personnel involved in past serious crimes. He questioned the consistency of the government’s pursuit of justice, suggesting that it should apply equally to all periods and actions deemed criminal.

“We said we needed justice when we said it was selective justice; others would not understand why we said it was selective justice. We are talking about serious crimes that occurred between July 1994 to 2017. I just want to ask this question to the honourable Minister whether sponsoring a coup is a serious crime honourable Minister,  the military that took up arms to overthrow a legitimate government is a serious crime. Because those soldiers are still serving in the military. They are even promoted and given responsibilities. So which serious crime are we now following?” Hon. Sanneh asked.

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