Justice minister denies knowledge of 15 minors in jail

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By Mafugi Ceesay

Abubacarr Tambadou, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice on Tuesday denied any prior knowledge of Amnesty International’s report that there were up to 15 children locked up in Gambian jails.

Amnesty made this claim last week and Minister Tambadou said his team is working on establishing the circumstances surrounding the cases highlighted and he is hoping to get response from his team by tomorrow, Friday.
He gave assurance that The Gambia will no longer tolerate human rights violations or impunity.

Ministerial discretion
He told journalists that he has discretion as the Attorney General to initiate prosecution which the Truth, Reconciliation & Reparations Commission (TRRC) has no control over. He said his decision to arrest and prosecute such witnesses is meant to complement the work of the commission.

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“We should always have the victims at the forefront of our mind. We are only satisfied when the victims are satisfied with the proceedings at the TRRC. We have learned the lessons of other truth commissions around the world and we don’t want to repeat those same mistakes. We are satisfied when victims find closure.”

The Minister said he would understand the issues of inconsistencies in the testimonies of witnesses due to loss of memory after 25 years. “However, when I conclude that a particular witness has been outrageously dishonest, then the consequences will be prosecution.”

Tambadou said in most of his public consultations over the past two years on this matter, he always encouraged witnesses to come forward to tell the truth. “Come forward with the truth, potentially benefit from an amnesty or do not come forward with the truth and you will face the consequences in terms of prosecution.”

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