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Justice Minister Presents Legislation to Prosecute Individuals Linked to Human Rights Violations

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Hon. Dawda Jallow, Attorney General & Minister of Justice

By Ramatoulie Jawo

Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Honorable Dawda A. Jallow introduced two significant bills on Monday, April 22, 2024, targeting the prosecution of individuals involved in human rights abuses as identified by the TRRC.

The proposed legislation, the Special Prosecutor Office Bill, 2024, and the Special Accountability Mechanism (TRRC) Bill, 2024, were presented during the National Assembly’s first extraordinary session of the 2024 legislative year. President Adama Barrow expedited the process under a certificate of urgency, urging members to deliberate on the bills.

The Special Accountability Mechanism (TRRC) Bill, 2024, is designed to create a comprehensive legal framework for the prosecution of those accused of grave human rights offenses between 1994 and 2017, as reported by the TRRC.

Concurrently, the Special Prosecutor Office Bill, 2024, aims to form a Special Prosecutor’s Office responsible for investigating and prosecuting serious human rights violations highlighted in the TRRC’s findings from the same period.

Minister Jallow, while presenting the bills, elucidated their purposes and justifications. He explained that the Special Accountability Mechanism (TRRC) Bill, 2024, sets up a system that includes the Special Prosecutor’s Office, a Special Tribunal akin to international courts, and a dedicated Criminal Division within the High Court.

He emphasized the bill’s intent to leverage both regional and international expertise while maintaining a Gambian-centric approach. This will be achieved by employing a mix of Gambian and international judges, prosecutors, and staff, with Gambians being given precedence.

“The special accountability Mechanism established in this bill envisions to take advantage of regional and international support and expertise simultaneously; the mechanism aims to be as Gambian-driven as possible. To achieve this, a combination of Gambian and non-Gambian judges, prosecutors, experts, and staff will be employed, with a priority given to Gambians,” he said.

Additionally, Minister Jallow outlined the process for appointing the Special Prosecutor in the Special Prosecutor Office Bill 2024, underscoring the President’s involvement in the selection based on a panel’s recommendations.

He affirmed that the bill delineates the Special Prosecutor’s Office’s jurisdiction, authorizing it to pursue cases of human rights violations as specified in the TRRC report.

Minister Jallow also highlighted the bill’s provisions that define the functions and powers of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, stressing its autonomy, neutrality, and discretionary powers in conducting investigations and prosecutions. The bill ensures that the Special Prosecutor operates under the tenets of fairness and independence. 

“The bill also outlines the functions and powers of the special prosecutor’s office, highlighting its independence, impartiality, and discretion in investigations and prosecutions. The special prosecutor has extensive authority, guided by principles of fairness, impartiality, and independence,” he highlighted. 

Moreover, he pointed out that the bill includes clauses regarding the removal, safeguarding, and immunity of the Special Prosecutor, as well as stipulations for succession, confidentiality, data protection, compliance, training, non-disclosure agreements, and offenses associated with the office, all intended to guarantee its efficient and principled operation.

Following the introduction of the bills, the National Assembly’s Speaker, FaBakary Tombong Jatta, invited members to engage in a discussion on the overarching merits and principles of the proposed legislation.

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