By Madi Jobarteh
For practical purposes, in the interest of urgent national objectives the Minister of Justice Aboubacarr Tambadou must stay on his job to continue to conclusion a process that he has started. In all of the endeavours that this new government will get involved with, there are two fundamental areas that are extremely critical to both national security and system change. For these two areas the Ministry of Justice is central and for that matter a certain kind of person is extremely necessary to run that ministry. Baa Tambadou reflects that kind of person for he meets the profile and the character. Thus from a purely national interest point of view, the Gambia needs Baa Tambadou at this moment.
The first area concerns truth and justice, i.e. bringing to light the truth about the Yahya Jammeh tyranny and then dispensing justice for the corruption and atrocities of that regime. Without the full exposure of the truth and delivery of justice, the Gambia would not heal properly from the trauma and scars of Yahya Jammeh. For that matter we could endure with grief and anger for a long time that could potentially endanger the peace and stability of the Gambia. Societies that undergo such brutality under a despotic regime require that the full extent of the atrocities be exposed and justice delivered in full so that the society can cleanse itself and ensure durable peace.
Citizens must see that justice is not only done but also seen to be done in order to relief their pain and become normal. When citizens feel there has not been justice, the dream of peace, unity and justice in that society shall remain an illusion. It is in such societies that citizens look for another opportunity to embark on revenge, hence conflict. Hence the need for this government to ensure the full exposure of the truth and ensure justice cannot be over emphasized. The person who has started and will oversee that process is Minster Tambadou.
Already the minister has facilitated the creation of a Yaya Jammeh assets commission. Earlier he created a Special Counsel for the prosecution of the murder of Solo Sandeng. I hope he would go further to create a special tribunal to better prosecute the whole gamut of the crimes of the 22-year dictatorship. I also understand that underground work is ongoing for the broader issue of transitional justice that is aimed at enabling the country ensure justice while at the same time maintaining unity and peace among citizens. I hope these will eventually lead to the creation of a Truth and Justice Commission. These are fundamental objectives that must move faster in a robust manner provided the Ministry of Justice is stable and continuing under the same man.
The second issue concerns system change in terms of the laws and institutions of the country. The hallmark of the APRC Tyranny is the blatant butchery to which they subjected our constitution. They went further to enact all sorts of laws regardless of whether such law violates our constitution or damages fundamental human rights. Hence the Gambia cannot be said to have transitioned from dictatorships to democracy without a fundamental change in our laws. It is these laws that effectively determine the creation and effective functioning of institutions. The person who is central in this process therefore is the Minister of Justice.
The Gambia needs a new constitution. For that matter we need to Constitutional Review Commission that is yet to be created. We also need to repeal, amend or create a number of laws so as to also restructure or create new institutions to build and nurture a democratic culture. Some of the new institutions we urgently need are a National Human Rights Commission, a National Anti-Corruption Commission and a National Committee against Torture among others. We also need Freedom of Information law as well as a Whistleblowing law to further strengthen a culture of transparency, accountability and efficient in the public sector particularly.
To execute these objectives require professionalism, focus and adequate political will and commitment that Tambadou has so far demonstrated. His sense of independence and adherence to principles are strengths we need in a Minister of Justice. Hence his continued tenure in that office is paramount in enabling the Gambia build a new society. This is not to say there are no better Gambians to carry forward these objectives. Indeed we can find such people among us. But since Tambadou began this process with such vigor and dedication, it serves us well if he remains in place to pursue these matters with the same tempo and speed with which he has started.
In light of the foregoing, I would urge Mr. Tambadou to remain in his office so long as Pres. Barrow and the vast majority of Gambians have confidence in him. While it is his prerogative to resign and such a decision would also be respected, but in the supreme interest of the Gambia, it is necessary that he remains in place. Therefore let citizens stand up with Baa Tambadou to support him to overcome this most difficult moment and remain in his office for the good of the country.