By: Foday Manneh
President Adama Barrow, on Friday, May 12, 2023, presided over the opening ceremony of the Stakeholders Conference and Donor Roundtable on implementing the Truth Reconciliation and Repatriation Commission (TRRC).
The two-day event, which is underway at the Sir Dawda Jawara International Conference Centre, brought together officials from the government, private sector, development partners, and victims of the 22-year dictatorship of former President Yahya Jammeh.
In his opening statement, President Barrow reassured that his government is fully committed to comprehensively implementing the recommendations of the TRRC.
“My government is fully committed to ensuring a comprehensive and effective implementation process, and we recognize the importance of working in partnership with all stakeholders within the country and the international community,” Barrow told the gathering.
“The task at hand is huge, but we can contain it; however, we must seize every opportunity to address the various aspects of the transitional justice process. Indeed, transformative change calls for a holistic and inclusive approach,” he said.
In their endeavors to achieve this objective, the President announced they had established a Partnership Platform to streamline donor support to avoid duplication of efforts.
“The Platform fosters cooperation and collaboration between and among the Government, civil society and victims’ organizations, and our international partners,” Barrow maintained.
On behalf of the development partners working group, the British High Commissioner to the Gambia, David Belgrove, commended the Gambia government for their continued commitment and high political support towards implementing the TRRC recommendations.
Mr. Belgrove reaffirmed their support towards the process, both technical and financial, adding that there cannot be any reconciliation without justice, and there cannot be justice without truth.
“The TRRC module that the Gambia used has been widely commended. It secured the confidence of the republic by establishing a truth, reconciliation, and repatriation commission that will see the independent,” Belgrove said.
“We would use this implementation plan to secure and allocate funds to develop with the government and other partners. We look forward to hearing about the partners’ platforms and an agreed mechanism for coordination with partners and informing them of progress would be important both at the technical level and principal level,” he added.
Speaking on behalf of the survivors of the dictatorship regime of Yahya Jammeh, Fatou Jatta said the accountability process should not stop at holding perpetrators to account but also ensure the crimes committed are never considered again.
“We noted that compensation is only one component of this repatriation program; others are prosecution, rehabilitation, satisfaction, and guarantee of never again,” Fatou appealed.
“It is also evident that a lot needs to be done to reconcile Gambia through designing, implementing, and promoting activism and campaign roundtable conferences to sensitize the public,” she added.
Fatou also called on key institutions, donors, and stakeholders to support the recommended memorization activities for victims, which include the building of infrastructure, production of documentaries, artwork, photography, guiding of peace, commemorative days, preservation of burial sites, and school projects, among others.
She also noted, “The need for urgent medical care, the provision of psychosocial support, educational welfare, and the rightly-hood support for victims are part of our numerous urgent priorities.”
The event also witnessed the official unveiling of the European Union — UNDP Initiative of a nine-million Euros fund to support responsive and accountable democratic governance in the Gambia.