By Omar Bah
Beth Van Schaack, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Office, has commended the Gambia for recently passing the Victims’ Reparations Act and Ban from Public Office Bill.
In a statement seen by The Standard, Beth Van Schaack wrote: “This is just a quick message to convey how thrilled I am to see that the Gambian National Assembly has passed two crucial bills. These pieces of legislation will advance transitional justice and address the legacy of abuses and repression carried out by the Jammeh regime, as comprehensively chronicled by the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission.”
She said the Victims’ Reparations Act will create real avenues of redress for victims while the Ban from Public Office Bill will help ensure that those most recommended for such action by the TRRC will be removed from office.
“We understand that additional plans underway include the development of a Special Accountability Mechanism and partnering with ECOWAS on the creation of a hybrid court. We commend The Gambian judicial and political leadership of the administration of President Barrow on these important commitments and their sustained dedication to transitional justice.
But these developments are just a first step,” she added.
She urged the government to stay the course and continue this progress towards accountability.
“I was lucky enough to visit The Gambia last year, and I was struck by the dedication of victims’ groups, who have tirelessly fought for justice, the honesty the whole country has displayed in facing its past, and the bravery of Gambians as they work for accountability and to restore a more peaceful and secure nation,” she complimented.
She commended the Gambia for the progress it has made on its domestic transitional justice efforts but also for being a leader in international justice as well.
“This has been demonstrated most recently today as several states joined The Gambia in its groundbreaking suit before the International Corut of Justice against Myanmar under the Genocide Convention. People all over the world can learn from The Gambia’s frank acknowledgement of its history, the courage of its people, and their creativity and dedication in pursuing an inclusive transitional justice program for all Gambians,” she stated.
She assured that the United States will continue to stand by The Gambia.