Citizens express diverse views at TRRC consultations

By Mamadou Dem

Diverse views continue to be expressed during the TRRC countrywide tour, though a popular view is the decentralization of the hearing of the commission. Meanwhile the TRRC continue to listen and take note of views on its composition and functions.

For the first a contributor has called for the prosecution of perpetrators under the Jammeh regime. Omar Ceesay a student at the University of the Gambia while contributing to the formation and mode of operations of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission opined that those involved in human rights violations for the past 22 years of Yahya Jammeh regime should face prosecution.

Mr. Ceesay made these remarks at the Semegajanneh Hall in Tallinding on the seventh day activity of the nationwide tour of the TRRC technical or sensitization committee.

“Forgiveness is not equivalent to justice, therefore, the TRRC should consider prosecution,” said Ceesay.

According to him, it would be difficult for certain people to confess and ask forgiveness on heinous or notorious crimes they committed; adding that the current government is propounded for rule of law. He said the Commission is to overrule the traditional criminal laws which could have prosecuted aiders for the crimes they allegedly committed.  “My humble opinion is for perpetrators of those crimes to be prosecuted,” he concluded.

Mrs. Maimuna Sanyang, sister to the late Koro Ceesay who was in tears submitted that the commission should be established; adding that they will never forget the trauma meted on them by the former regime.

Speaking earlier, one Omar L Ceesay expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Justice and the government of the Gambia for the good initiative. However he was quick to ask how people would be made to appear before the commission and speak the truth.

“Will they willingly appear and testify or will they be forced to do so?” he quizzed. The said questions were referred back to him as the mission of the consultation committee is to hear from the horse’s mouth but Sanyang did not come up with any opinion on that.

Several speakers are of the view that the commission should be decentralized and consist of young people as well while others are of the view that religious leaders, Civil Society Organizations (CSO’s) and the media should form part of the commission.

Mr. Sambou Fatty of Latrikunda Sabiji who was convicted and sentenced by a high court judge alongside with Amadou Sanneh, Finance and Economic Affairs Minister reckoned the torture meted against him at the defunct NIA headquarters now called State Intelligence Service (SIS).

“I was tortured because I was believed to be an opposition element. The NIA used to torture me for more than an hour without doing anything wrong,” he explained. “Cruelty and the inhuman treatment which was going in this country was known to many,” said Fatty.

Mr. Fatty alleged that some human rights violators are still within the system while others are languishing at the remand wing of Mile II.

One Sarjo Sabally of Tallinding said the establishment of the commission is long overdue because Gambians had suffered tremendously well in the past 22 years.

At this juncture, tears started to roll down her cheeks due to the hardship and trauma she went through under Jammeh administration. “I was put naked and tortured seriously by state agents of the former government,” she cried.

Alieu Gibba a member of the youth parliament opined that people who committed capital offences like murder are not expected to be part of the commission. However, he opined that the technical committee should have a way of categorizing victims because there could be some who might face torture and not physically affected but psychologically.

“Psychologist and Social workers should also be included in the commission. This will help people who need counselling,” he suggested. Messrs Lamin and Kemo Ceesay advocated for independence and impartiality in the commission. They added that victims of Jammeh’s so-called HIV/AIDS treatment should also be put into consideration.

Earlier, on the sixth day of the tour, people from Gunjur village and its environs in Kombo South called on their traditional rulers to change their attitudes towards the people and their properties (Lands).

One Sidou Touray stated that there cannot be reconciliation if the truth is not implemented; adding that some people are fund of sabotage but no tribe is better than the other.

Several people that spoke at the meeting are very much concerned on establishing a “Land Commission” because they believe that the previous government snatched their properties from them and gave them to foreigners. Therefore, they appeal to government to set up a land commission which will investigate the dealings of lands.

Mr. Kwsu Jadama of Gunjur described the past government as “tenure of terror.” He advised the general public to exercise patience because the commission has lot of work head.

“People with moral uprightness, integrity and truthfulness need to represent victims. Commission members need proper education so that they can deliver as expected,” he posited.

On the issue of reparation, Jadama explained that when you talk about reparation it might mean so many things; it could be in a form of cash or Automated Teller Machine (ATM) while for some they need support in different dimensions such as pipe burn water, health facility amongst others. However he advised the commission to come up with a ‘Scholarship Scheme’ for some of the victims to enhance the education of their families.

“Government cannot continue with the upkeep of a family that lost a breed winner,” said Jadama.

He finally urged the Barrow administration to speed up and also be firm with record keeping; to do things right and get them right. “I advise that record keeping to be respected not only by government but the UN System as well,” he concluded.

The governor of West Coast Region, Ebrima Mballow and Mayor of Kanifing Municipality in their welcoming remarks urged participants to desist from making false fabrications and urged them to reconcile as one people.

Binta Jammeh-Sidibeh, executive director of Women Bureau, and Tabu Sarr of Tango, while moderating informed participants that TRRC is in fulfillment of the campaign promise made by the coalition government to set up a commission that will solve all the human rights violations caused by the Jammeh government.