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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Children’s views and opinions on the TRRC and transitional justice

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By Baba Galleh Jallow

Over the past several months, the Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with UNICEF, the Victims’ Center, the National Youth Council, the Child Protection Alliance, Peace Ambassadors, Regional Education Offices and other stakeholders have overseen the creation of a Children’s Network for Transitional Justice in schools across the country. This is to ensure that children understand and are active participants in The Gambia’s transitional justice process and that among other things, their needs and concerns are given the priority attention they deserve.

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In the run-up to a weekend on transitional justice for students from all regions of The Gambia held at Janjanbureh from May 4 – 6, 2018, children across the country were asked to complete a questionnaire on transitional justice. 194 students from across the country completed the questionnaire among whom 68 were Male, 89 Female and 37 anonymous. Below are some of their responses.

1. Knowledge about the TRRC
27.31 % of the students approached have no idea of what TRRC stand for or mix it up with the Janneh Commission. Among the 72.69 % left, 40% have a limited knowledge about the TRRC (“The TRRC ensures that justice prevails in the country”, ” TRRC investigates human rights violations”,” TRRC promotes reconciliation”.

While 85% of the children are interested to know more about the TRRC, only few are willing to give statements and some mentioned that they would rather not be involved in matters they have no knowledge of.
2. Definition of the TRRC
”The TRRC is a commission that is here to help bring justice to all people who have been affected by the former regime.’’

”It is a body that is set up to investigate about the fundamental human rights violations that have taken place in the former regime.”
”The TRRC is looking for the establishment of peace, unity, freedom and justice among all Gambians.’’
”The TRRC is a commission that is created by the government but not controlled by the government to investigate, reconcile, give reparations and seek justice for the needy people who were victimized by the previous regime.’’

”The TRRC is an organization that is set up to fight and defend the rights of the people that have been violated, tortured, maltreated and imprisoned without reason.”

3. Children’s questions about the TRRC and the previous political regime
Bringing Jammeh to Justice:
Will the TRRC recommend trials against Jammeh?
Will the TRRC recommend to bring back the former President for investigations?
How could our former President kill our mothers, sisters, brothers and fathers? And if we ask him he responds “Ask the dead people”.

Is it possible for Y. Jammeh to come back in the country despite what he has done to us?
Will it be possible for Jammeh to come back in the country without taking him to court?
What are the steps that the TRRC has taken to bring the former President to justice?
Is the TRRC set up to criticize the former regime?
How come Jammeh was able to spend people’s and the government’s money?
How could we take back the money stolen by the former President?
On the TRRC:

What are the concrete methods that the TRRC can use to suppress the displacement crisis and human right violations?
Where is the TRRC getting funds
Why can’t the TRRC educate people about peace and unity and the ways to reconcile than always talking about the past regime?
What are you doing to educate people about the effects of political crisis?
When will the TRRC start its work?
Is the TRRC an independent body?
How will the TRRC engage people from the rural areas?
How will the TRRC reconcile the victims and the perpetrators?
About the Perpetrators:

How is the TRRC going to build contact with the perpetrators responsible for most of the serious crimes?
What actions will the TRRC take against those who are guilty of crimes?
What measures will the TRRC take should they find people guilty of any crimes and involved in the former regime?
What could be the punishment of a person who is guilty of crimes?
About the Victims:

After knowing who are the victims of the past 22 years, what will be their reaction and compensation to them?
After finding the truth about the past regime, what will be the steps towards the victims and the families?
How will you make justice for those people who lost their lives during Jammeh’s regime?
How will the TRRC be able to find the people who disappeared?
How will the TRRC treat the victims?
Will the TRRC give medical treatment for the victims?
About the children and the youth:

What can the TRRC do with the Children’s Network on TJ?
How will the TRRC help the educated young people who are sitting without working?
Will the children be involved to form a Children’s Commission?
What can the TRRC do for children’s rights to be respected and girls be free from FGM?
4. What role do you think the children and youth should play in building the New Gambia?
Children and youth can help to build the New Gambia by participating in peace talks and programs and think of new ways of maintaining peace in the country.

Children and youth should be taught about the TRRC and human rights so that they know their stand in the country.
Children have a big role to play because most of them have witnessed some of the human rights violations so they could give a statement. Children should also be engaged to end tribalism and other forms of discrimination.

The student members of the Network on TJ should become the ambassadors of peace.
The children should be involved in the national reconciliation process by being given the support to reach out to communities.
The children can raise awareness to the Gambian citizens that the TRRC is here to bring justice and bring people together in order to live peacefully in our communities.
Involve the children through art and music.

Participation and partnership of children with relevant organizations and the TRRC.
The Children’s Network on TJ should have a WhatsApp group to receive more info on the TRRC and present it and have debates in their respective schools and contact the radio stations to circulate the information.
Having the students involved and trained so they can all play a role and go back to their schools and communities to disseminate information correctly.

The Network could sensitize their peers and communities, and advocate for peace.
Involving children in the decision making process.
Children should participate in more TJ activities to share their ideas in the interest of their country.
Children should take part in social activities that enhance the betterment of children and youth.
Working with the TRRC will help the children to circulate information to the youth and children and trigger changes in the Gambia.

Create a platform for children to be engaged in politics and decision making.
Create a platform for children and youth to express themselves and give their opinions to the TRRC.
5. How best could we best get answers to children?
– Presentation at schools, 94 %
– Presentation in communities 3 %
– Drama and music, 2 %
– Social media, 4 %
– Website, 15 %
– WhatsApp group for children, 3 %
– Radio programs, 2 %
6. What TRRC activities would you like to participate in?
– Art, 10
– Drama, 92
– Poetry, 35
– Music, 23
– Debate, 72
7. What do you find difficult in your life?
– Financial issues, 25 %
– Need for education materials, 25 %
– Transportation issues, 10 %
– Access to basic amenities, 4 %
– Employment opportunities, 20 %
– Access to higher education, 1 %
– Access to health care, 4 %
– Social security, 1 %
– Harmful traditional practices, 8 %
– Prostitution, 1 %
– Tribalism, 30 %
– Security issues, 7 %
– Migration issues, 1 %
– Lack of parental care, 2 %
– Communication between the government and the population, 3 %
– Lack of good leadership, 10 %
8. What values are important to you in a peaceful community?
– Human rights
– No abuse of power
– Religion
– Democracy
– Equality
– No corruption
– Honesty
– Solidarity
– Tolerance
– Respect
– Integrity
– Unity
– Justice
– Protection of the environment
– Political stability
– Economic development
– Freedom of the press, speech and movement

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