By Alagie Manneh
Amnesty International and partners said Wednesday that accountability, transparency and inclusiveness must take centre stage ahead of the government’s publication of the TRRC white paper.
The government will release the report in a public ceremony later this month, but the rights group, in an open letter sent to the minister of justice on Wednesday, said the process followed by the government to produce the document must be inclusive and involves the victims of abuses of former President Jammeh, and the civil society.
“We welcome the national discussion on the TRRC report this week between your department, some civil society and victim-led organisations as an important and encouraging step to ensure inclusion of victims in the process. Victims and affected communities should be consulted and should be able to contribute to the decision-making process, the prioritisation and the designing of measures with regard to matters that concern them. In this spirit, we hope you will go beyond the TRRC recommendations and consider the demands of the victims who did not participate in the TRRC hearings, namely regarding sexual and gender-based violence,” the joint Amnesty letter, signed by Gambia Press Union, Trial International, the Victims Centre and other partners, stated.
The missive added: “We also urge you to ensure that combating impunity is an essential part of the government’s roadmap. Victims have a right to receive truth, justice and reparations. The TRRC found that crimes against humanity had been committed and that Yahya Jammeh and 69 other named perpetrators were responsible for 44 specific crimes, including murder, torture, rape and sexual violence, enforced disappearance, and called for their prosecution. The government should thus ensure that enough resources are dedicated so that prompt, thorough and impartial investigations are conducted, and alleged perpetrators are prosecuted in fair trials within a reasonable time and before an independent and impartial tribunal with no recourse to the death penalty.”
The group also urged the Gambia government, as recommended by the TRRC, to adopt a legislation in a bid to avoid a repetition of the crimes committed and combat impunity.
“Transparency”, they said, “is primordial in this whole process”.
“We expect that the government will continue to communicate in a transparent, regular and clear way about the evolution of the white paper and publish it by 25 May, so that every Gambian is aware of the government’s plan to provide justice and reparations to the victims, and civil society can assist in the implementation and its monitoring. The publication of the white paper coincides with the first months of President Barrow’s second administration. For our organisations, the content of the white paper will be an indicator of the government’s real commitment to justice and accountability,” it stated.