The pursuit of reconciliation does not mean that people who have committed major crimes will be granted amnesty, Justice Minister Baa Tambadou said Friday at the launching of a consultative meeting on the establishment of Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) at Njembe Hotel.
Tambadou said the consultative meeting will lead to the formation of a technical committee with the objective of soliciting the views of Gambians on the establishment of the proposed Commission.
“We shall be guided by the international law in the granting of amnesty…,” Tambadou said, confirming they won’t grant amnesty for major crimes such as torture or crimes against humanity as stated under the international law.
But Tambadou said there may be guarantees against future prosecution in appropriate cases, adding that alleged perpetrators who refused to come forward may also be prosecuted if substantive cases are found against them.
The proposed Commission seeks to create an impartial historical record of violations and abuses of human rights from july1994 to January 2017, in order to promote healing and reconciliation, respond to the needs of the victims; address impunity; and prevent a repetition of the violations and abuses suffered, recommend the granting of amnesty to persons in appropriate cases; establish and make known the fate or whereabouts of disappeared victims; provide victims an opportunity to relate their own accounts of the violations and abuses suffered; and grant reparations to victims in appropriate cases.
Their consultative meetings, according to the minister, will be open to the general public in each administrative region
Tambadou expressed hope that the consultation will enhance the local ownership and participation in the transitional justice programme.
Meanwhile, Dr Amadou Scattred Janneh, a Gambian political activist who spoke on behalf of the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations, said they are expecting the TRRC to recommend the prosecution of Jammeh.
“We hope the TRRC will make recommendations on how perpetrators of serious crimes, including former president Yahya Jammeh, should be held accountable,” Dr Janneh said.
Janneh said the “desire to achieve reconciliation… should not come at the expense of bringing individuals to justice for egregious crimes perpetrated against their fellow human beings”.
The United Nations resident coordinator, Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, called on authorities to ensure that “the exercise is conducted in a thoroughly transparent manner, consistently focusing on national ownership of the process and of the rights and the needs of the victims and their families”.
Lekoetje said the current political dispensation provides a great opportunity to advance justice and reconciliation in the country, pledging that the UN will support Gambia in the establishment of the transitional justice programme.
The nationwide consultation exercise is expected to start this month, while the Commission is expected to also commence work before the end of the year.