As you must all be aware, the process of nominations for appointment of Commissioners to the TRRC has commenced. Nominations of candidates in the greater Banjul area and the diaspora have already been received. The parallel process for the regional nominations has now commenced and should be completed by the end of this week. The next steps will be as follows:
· Nominations from the greater Banjul area, the diaspora and the regions will be compiled and the Ministry will review the full list and identify the 11 commissioners based on established criteria under the TRRC Act;
· The shortlisted 11 commissioners together with the long list of nominees will be submitted to the transitional justice Technical Committee for their review and comments. The TC includes members of civil society; government representatives, some representatives of the diplomatic community under the chair of the MOJ;
· The final list of 11 commissioners shall be published in the media through newspapers and radio announcements inviting the public to submit objections on the eligibility of any of the candidates as per the TRRC Act;
· His Excellency, the President will then appoint the 11 commissioners in consultation with the list of organizations identified under the TRRC Act.
Our objective is to have the Commission start its first sitting in August. Meanwhile, we have been engaged in a series of activities such as the provision of training for media practitioners on truth commission reporting. I believe the Executive Secretary Mr Baba Galleh Jallow has been providing information on this.
The members of the Constitutional Review Commission have been sworn in as you are well aware and they have started work in earnest. They will be conducting their work independently and all questions about their activities should now be referred to them.
I wish to announce that last week, the Secretary to the Commission, Mr Alhaji Kurang, made a number of unsubstantiated allegations against Counsel Amie Bensouda. Based on information available to me, Mr Kurang acted beyond the confines of his administrative authority which was principally to execute the orders of the Commission and not to question the wisdom or motivations underpinning those orders. As a result of his actions, and in consultation with the Commission, Mr Kurang’s position as Secretary to the Commission has now become untenable under the circumstances. We wish to thank him for his service and wish him luck in his future endeavours.
I am also pleased to announce that over the past few weeks, I received a team of forensic scientists with the kind support of Justice Rapid Response, an international NGO working in the area of international criminal justice. The forensic scientists, in cooperation with the Gambia Police Force forensic unit, conducted examinations on the human remains that were exhumed sometime last year including the presumed remains of Solo Sandeng. Preliminary results have positively identified the remains as those of Solo Sandeng and three of the December 30thincident, ie, Njagga Jagne, Lamin Sanneh, and Alhaji Jaja Nyass. However, thse results are still subject to confirmation which we hope to receive soon.
We have issued advertisements for the position of commissioner to the National Human Rights Commission. We will be submitting the list of applicants to the selection panel made up of representatives of Tango, Gambia Bar Association, Gambia Federation of the Disabled, National Youth Council, Female Lawyers Association of The Gambia, and the Gambia Press Union in accordance with the NHRC Act. The selection panel shall shortlist 9 candidates for membership of the Commission and cause the shortlist of candidates to be published in the Gazette for 14 days for any possible objections. Subsequently, the shortlisted candidates will be presented to the National Assembly for approval of 5 of the candidates as members of the Commission.
Criminal Justice Reform
We have now secured assistance from the South Korean Government through the Korean International Cooperation Agency to support the criminal justice and prison reform process including criminal justice legislative reforms. This assistance will enable us conduct a comprehensive review of our criminal law and procedure with a view to adopting international best practices and repealing retrogressive laws. The project will be executed through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
I thank you all.