By Tabora Bojang
A five-day training for newly appointed members and staff of the TRRC on managing truth and reconciliation process in a post-authoritarian regime is underway at a local hotel in Kotu.
Organised by the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, in partnership with the Ministry of Justice, International Centre for Transitional Justice and UN human rights and development agencies like PBSO, UNDP and OHCHR. The training aims to providing basic truth and reconciliation management skills and experience for the commissioners by exposing them to established principles that help a truth commission become successful and work in an effective manner.
The highly-anticipated TRRC, expected to be launched October 15, is mandated to ‘manage truth seeking, investigate human rights violations committed under the former regime and promote justice, reconciliation, and healing, after 22 years of oppression’.
deputy chairperson and nominee of the TRRC, Adelaide Sosseh, said: “Cognisant that the truth and reconciliation process is not an easy one we are not only grateful but appreciative that we are opportuned to benefit from a vast wealth of available knowledge and experience of the trainers who will provide us with different models of TRCs, lessons learnt, their successes and failures and enable us to make informed decisions on what type of model commissioners will adopt for The Gambia, guided by the TRRC Act.”
Madam Sosseh, a gender consultant and retired educationist, emphasised the importance of acknowledging the ‘healing power of truth’ and the importance of unraveling the truth about past atrocities, stating that no matter how painful it will be, the search for the truth must be done.
According to her, healing can only occur through providing space for survivors of violence to be heard in a safe environment.
“The Commission must be made as friendly and safe for the survivors particularly the children and the women to want to come and tell their stories.”
Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, the outgoing UN resident coordinator, said the UN has considerable experience in the area of transitional justice and has supported the new government since coming to power in its efforts to achieving objectives in the area of transitional justice.
“The UN will continue this support through technical and institutional capacity building,” she pledged.
The success of the TRRC she said, would depend largely on the effective performance of the commissioners, keeping in mind at all times the centrality of victims.
“I encourage you, while being mindful of your own independence as a Commission, to remain as inclusive and transparent as possible in delivering your mandate and work closely with all stakeholders, particularly the victims. To engender trust, ensure a victim-centric approach and ultimately broad public participation and continued public ownership of the process,” she stated.