By Ramatoulie Jawo
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has revealed that the Government of the Gambia has only fully implemented 6 out of 265 recommendations made by the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission (TRRC).
“Out of the 265 recommendations, our research found that six were fully implemented from May 25th, 2022, to May 25th, 2023. Only 6 recommendations that we can comfortably say are fully implemented. We also found out that 165 recommendations are ongoing, so Implementation of one form or another started, but they are not completed.
“And you will realize that a lot of these recommendations cover areas such as capacity building, law reform, etc. Because law reform is a process and institutional reform as well are processes that take time. For example, the Criminal Procedure Code, which was recommended for review and amendment or repeal, you will see that currently there is already a Bill that is in the Pipeline. The Bill has not yet reached all the relevant stages for it to be called an Act of Parliament. This has happened to several other laws that are up for review,” Basiru Bah, a Senior Legal Officer at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) revealed.
Mr. Bah said that their research also found that 91 of the recommendations have not been implemented at all, and no action has been taken to implement them.
“If you are good at Maths and do your calculations, you will find out that a very small percentage of the recommendation have been fully implemented,” he said.Mr. Bah clarified that the numbers were not just from his team, but also from other stakeholders around the country, including civil society organizations (CSOs) who are involved in the implementation process in some way.
“We felt the need to air our opinion as to what should be done by various actors so that we can fast track the implementation process and so that we can avoid what befalls other countries that have undergone through this Truth and Reparations Commission. You will see that in Kenya, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone, although they had theirs way earlier before us, but they are still grappling with the implementation, and we want to avoid that pattern. That is why we gave some recommendations,” he stated.
Mr. Bah went on to list some of the recommendations that have been implemented.
“The first one is found in paragraph 171 of the government white paper, the one which said that to take administrative and internal discipline measures against superintendent Almami Manga for unlawful detaining an infant and her mother without a court or other lawful order. We were reliably informed that the police actually did this, but for the outcome, you may agree or disagree, but at least what the recommendations stated in the TRRC recommendations were done by the police.
“Then another one was found in paragraph 179, and it has to do with the repeal of section 173(A) of the Information and Communications Act 2009, as amended, you will realize that there is Access to Information law But also this particular provision was repealed earlier in the days of the transition. And paragraph 467, which has to do with the Female Prison Officers who were denied incentives, and Promotion for refusing to submit to sexual violence by the Director General of Prisons David Colley, and Senior Government Officials in 2007, should be promoted to the level of their colleagues who were not subjected to any form of harassment or unfair treatment. We received an update that those Prison Officers are elevated to relevant ranks,” Mr. Bah revealed.
Mr. Bah further emphasized that progress is being made on the recommendations outlined in paragraph 190 of the government white paper.
Specifically, Mr. Bah highlighted that this particular recommendation involves conducting a comprehensive review of the Criminal Code, the Criminal Offences Bill 2020, and the Criminal Procedure Bill 2019. The objective is to identify and address any provisions within these legal documents that might be deemed oppressive, excessively restrictive, or detrimental to freedom of expression.
Additionally, he underscored that another ongoing implementation pertains to the prosecution of Ousman Sonko for charges related to the sexual assault of a victim and a 15-year-old girl.
“This is deemed to be ongoing because of what is happening to Ousman Sonko currently, though it is not within the Gambia. But we can comfortably say that our state is cooperating with authorities that are responsible for his prosecution in terms of provision of documents, facilitating the availability of witnesses to testify,” he said.
Mr. Bah made these remarks while presenting the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) report on Monitoring and Implementation of the Government White Paper at a press conference organized by the Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations.
The press conference is meant to update the public on the State of the implementation of the government white paper on the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparation Commission (TRRC) recommendations.