President Adama Barrow on Thursday (25 November 2021) upon receiving the report of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), declared that his government “will ensure that justice is done”.
In his statement delivered on the occasion at State House in Banjul, the President thanked “the witnesses and their families for their fortitude and courageous testimonies.”
“I assure them that my government will ensure that justice is done, but I urge them to be patient and allow the legal process to take its course.
“That way, justice will prevail, and we will be able to heal as a country and move forward united and stronger, with greater determination.”
The event was witnessed by the Vice President, Chief Justice, TRRC commissioners and staff.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I reassure you that my government will study the Report carefully for appropriate action.
“Thereafter, Government will inform the general public of its position in a White Paper that will be published within six months from today. In the interim, I advise all Gambians to exercise restraint.”
According to the Gambian head of state, the submission of the TRRC report “highlights another milestone in the implementation process of our transition programme, and it marks a great achievement for the Gambian nation.”
The TRRC, he continued, was established by his government “to investigate human rights and other abuses committed from 1994 to 2016, in order to bring about justice and accountability, healing and reconciliation among Gambians, and to effect reparations for deserving victims.
“Like the National Human Rights Commission, the Constitutional Review Commission, the Security Sector Reform and Civil Service Reform, the setting up of this Commission is an essential but unique aspect of The Gambia’s Transitional Justice Programme, hence the importance of its work.”
He went on to point out that many African countries set up truth commissions, in one form or another, “to provide a platform for victims of human rights abuses to relay their stories, hold perpetrators accountable and determine reparation packages, where necessary.”
He cited the Gacaca Courts in Rwanda where, he said, “despite the genocide, the people have reconciled their differences, and are now working together to develop their country.
“Realising that they could not undo the past, the Rwandese factions that killed and maimed one another’s families knew that the right thing to do was to bury the hatchet, and work together to build a better future as one people. We have a lot to learn from that experience.”
In The Gambia, the truth Commission “was mandated to get to the bottom of human rights abuses, uncover the truth to guarantee a clear historical record of what transpired in our beloved country l, and submit recommendations on reparations for deserving victims.”
“Through the TRRC, Gambians now know what happened on Gambian soil in the past. Although we have decided as a country to unearth the truth, our desire is to create a path for healing and reconciliation, with the goal of co-existing peacefully as Gambians.
“I am certain that, if we choose to do so, we can live together in peace and harmony, without any form of injustice, and nurture our young democracy in a stable nation where the rule of law prevails in the best interest of our country.”
Gambia’s TRRC received support from the United Nations Peace Building Support Office in New York, UNDP and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“Their support made it possible to establish a credible transitional justice process, and devise suitable mechanisms that would promote reconciliation and sustainable peace in The Gambia.
“Building the capacity of the Government and national stakeholders, through the Peace Building Fund, has contributed to the successes realised in pursuit of our reform agenda.
“Other partners, such as the International IDEA, the International Centre for Transitional Justice, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, and Justice Rapid Response, as well as a host of other local civil society organisations, such as FLAG, TANGO and the Bar Association, also deserve commendation.”