By Ramatoulie Jawo
The Gambian Bar Association (GBA) with its partners on Wednesday organised a public forum on transitional justice.
The aim of the forum is to look in the implementation on the TRRC recommendation on prosecutions and to further discuss on the importance of accountability for crimes committed during the 1994-to 2017 period,as to well as how and where such prosecutions could be carried out.
Speaking at the event, a human rights lawyer Neneh M.C. Cham talked about the importance of accountability in The Gambia.
She said for 22 years, Gambians had suffered under former President Yahya Jammeh.
Cham added that people’s rights were violated in different forms and victims were left traumatised, left wanting justices and are still struggling to understand the process because when the process began they were expecting their perpetrators to be taking to court but that wasn’t possible because the Gambians chose the transitional justices process which setup the TRRC to find out the truth first, reconcile victims and alleged perpetrators and give reparations.
The human rights lawyer said the victims rely on the commission for justice to be served, calling for a nation building process that starts with the collective effort of the Gambian people.
Fatou Jagne Senghore, the executive director, Article 19 said the commission should not allow perpetrators to work freely in The Gambia and hold public offices, especially in the security sector.
She argued if that happens, it will defeat the whole purpose of the commission and would add more trauma onto the victims which can cause revenge at the end of the day
“We should make sure that the truth is at the centre because, if the truth is not told, it will be very difficult to get the full accountability that we want as a nation,” she said.
Stephen Rapp, former United States ambassador said they would continue to work with GBA and partners to make sure that the promise of justices is kept so that the crimes would never be repeated in The Gambia.
Victims called on the government to make sure that justice is served to them and said to them, justice means to see their perpetrators prosecuted because it’s not just about reparations given to them; saying reparations can’t bring back their loved ones.
They urged all actors to work harder so that the truth is not diverted and build the capacity of the victims to enable them know their rights.
By Ramatoulie Jawo