Civil society, media trained on transitional justice mechanisms

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By Tabora Bojang

A four-day capacity-building workshop for civil society organisations and members of the media is currently underway at a local hotel in Bakau.
The training organised by the Justice Ministry in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Peace Building Support Office (PBSO) is aimed at strengthening the capacity and understanding of civil society and media to promote improved understanding of conceptual framework mechanisms of transitional justice. As well as effectively participate in its institutional processes including the upcoming truth, reconciliation and reparations commission.

As a Gambian transitional justice institution, the TRRC is designed to investigate systematic wide ranges of past human rights abuses and violations of the former regime, manage truth seeking, enhance reconciliation and prevent repetitions of the abuses and violations suffered in the past 22 years.
In her opening remarks, Mrs. Nessie Golakai-Gould, UNDP deputy country Representative, described the training as an essential opportunity to engage media and civil society as key partners to the Government in its plans for the successful implementation of transitional justice after 22-years dictatorial rule.
”Strengthening participants’ knowledge and attitude by equipping them with the necessary skills and tools to understand the functioning of selected transitional mechanisms such as truth commission, prosecutions and institutional reforms for non-recurrence of human rights violations will go a long way in enhancing public outreach and inclusive national dialogue,” she said.

Madam Golakai, who has an extensive experience with civil society having worked with international and regional civil society networks in the Africa, assured UNDP’s continuous and unwavering commitment to ensure a smooth success in Gambia’s transitional justice processes.
According to the Solicitor General and Legal Secretary, Cherno Marena, the success of the upcoming commission would be highly vested on the media and the civil society, as key and important partners in managing the expectations of the public on transitional justice processes.

”A very important and key element of transitional justice is managing expectations of not only the victims but also managing the expectations of the general society, public, media and even the civil society organisations. Therefore success of our TJ mechanism rests not so much on the involvement and investment of the state but also equally on the investment of media practitioners and Civil Society Organisations who would naturally accomplish the process,” said Marena.

He said the Gambia’s truth commission is a unique model that is tailored to the country’s own situation and will serve as a source of inspiration for other commissions over the world. ”This is why after the study tour organised in South Africa and Sierra Leone, we were able to come up with our own model. Therefore, it is important that when we are disseminating information on the TRRC we speak from an informed angle,” he stated.