A one-day training session jointly organised by the Gambia Press Union (GPU) and the Abidjan-based International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) was held Thursday at Gamtel Training School in Kanifing.
The workshop brought together journalists from the print, electronic and online media and aimed at enhancing the capacities of media practionners in the area of transitional justice.
“Considering the fact that the situation is so polarised, there is need for journalists to understand the issue of transitional justice,”
GPU President Emil Touray said in his introductory remarks.
The tiny West African nation is emerging from 22 years of dictatorship by the Jammeh regime and journalists are major stakeholders in the new political dispensation. As Gambians are confronting their past, media practitioners are expected to fulfill their duty to inform with responsibility in order to contribute to building and maintaining a democratic society.
GPU President emphasised the importance for journalists to wear the lenses of peacemakers in carrying out their job, indicating that this can only be done if they have the capacities to deliver.
He further stated that a code of conduct on transitional justice reporting is in the pipeline.
ICTJ’s Muhammed Suma, who served as one of the resource persons, reminded the gathering that the media was the target of the former regime. He therefore noted that the role of the media in transitional justice is of paramount importance.
Suma outlined the major steps of transitional justice that inexorably go through Truth seeking; Criminal justice; Reparation and Institutional reform.
He went on to say it is important for Gambians to confront the legacy of past human rights abuses so as to be able to build a stable and democratic future.
Shedding light on the challenges that Gambians could face in their quest for justice, Muhammed Suma made a revelation that left participants astonished: only nine (9) people were indicted in Sierra Leone, despite the fact that 30,000 victims were identified.
Totally in his element, Suma made it clear that it is the obligation of the State to provide victims with reparation. “If the State fails to protect, it provides remedy,” he said.
In such a context, he said reparation comes as a relief not a charity.
Dealing with the issue of institutional reform, he said the ultimate is to reform the personnel of the Civil Service, citing vetting process as an important tool that could help to restore the confidence between the State and the citizen.