“TRRC Shall Provide Protection for Victims & Witnesses,” Justice Minister

By Mamadou Dem

Justice Minister Tambadou in an interview with journalists on the last day of the nationwide tour of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission, yesterday at the premises of Gambia Senior Secondary School in Banjul, disclosed that protection will be accorded to both victims and perpetrators willing to testify before the commission.

According to him there will be a “Protection Unit” under the TRRC which will solely be responsible with such mandates; that this has triggered his ministry to embark on a study tour in Sierra Leone in order to enable him  and his ministry know better, the measures and approaches conducted in that country.

Deliberating on the involvement of investigators and researchers as support staff, the minister was quizzed whether this will involve the security apparatus. He responded that it was too early to dilate on some of those issues because the process on the TRRC is still ongoing.

Mrs.  Awa Sillah –Njie, Deputy Mayor of Banjul, deputizing for Mayor Abdoulie Bah, appealed to Banjulians to participate progressively towards the formation of the commission. She applauded the Ministry of Justice and partners for embarking on the sensitization of the proposed TRRC.

Mr. John Njie of TANGO who acted as moderator, informed the gathering that the purpose of the meeting was to sound the opinions of Banjulians on the formation of the reparation commission. He said the Government of the Gambia and Civil Society Organizations deemed it prudent to involve citizens in the planning and establishment of the commission.

“I have witness so many political dispensations but am pleased to be opportune to work with the minister of Justice. His openness to the media has shown that he’s determined and prepared for the transparency and accountability of the commission to the people. We as Civil Society should not take these opportunities lightly,” he added.

According to Mr. Njie, Tambadou’s efforts in moving the Gambia forward are quite presentable and commendable; that he has seen competent civil servants in the ministry of justice. He therefore implored on them to continue the good work.

Speaking to city members, Minister Tambadou informed them that their mission in Banjul was in fulfilment of a promise made by the President and his coalition members that if voted into office, he will setup a truth commission.

After successful deliberations from Banjulians including the National Assembly for Banjul North, Hon. Ousman Sillah, the Minister applauded them for their foresight and outstanding contributions to the TRRC.

The Vice President of the Gambia Press Union, Namory Trawally, reiterate that this is the first of its kind for government to involve the GPU in national bodies like this.

He explained that the commission is very important as it will be mandated to investigate the atrocities committed by the former regime. “The Commission will investigate to know what exactly happened and come up with a solution,” he disclosed.

He therefore urged participants to exchange ideas with the delegates for a better Gambia. He further explained why the commission should be established, how it will operate and when they intend to commence sittings.

“Government wants to know the atrocities committed from July 1994 to December 2016 so that everything will become clear. This will help government to know the right approach to take in the healing process. It will also help to know the number that disappeared, how, when even where they disappeared to,” he said.

Mr. Trawally explained that upon completion of their work, the Commission will compile a report but prior to that, the information gathered will be blended with that of the Ministry of Justice and a draft bill will be presented to the National Assembly for enactment; that if the majority votes for it to be passed in parliament, then it becomes part of the laws of the nation.

He said the President will also be advised on the findings made by the commission to avoid any form of brutality like that of Jammeh. He remarked, “I urged you to come out, face the commission and speak the truth,” he concluded”.