By Tabora Bojang
After coming under a torrent of criticisms for allegedly snubbing cases of violations against the Jammeh administration, TRRC said its mandate does not transcend the probe of Jammeh atrocities and those associated with state institutions.
Speaking in an interview with The Standard, TRRC Lead Counsel Essa Faal explained that the mandate of the truth-telling body is to investigate human rights violations perpetrated by the state and its institutions and not otherwise.
Two former drivers in the ex-president Jammeh security motorcade challenged the TRRC to also investigate two fatal arm attacks on Gambia national army soldiers in Farafenni and Kartong barracks in the mid 1990s as well as the December 30, 2014 assault on State House. Several soldiers were killed in attacks on the barracks while coup plotters were killed in the attack on the State House.
According lead counselFaal, the chapters of these crimeswere done and dusted since the people behind them were pursued, apprehended, arraigned and convicted with their sentences executed.
“When we talk about human rights violations generally, we are referring to the failings of the state that resulted in particular protections having been violated and there is a fundamental difference between human rights violations and crimes.So our mandate is to investigate human rights violations and not necessarily to investigate crimes especially crimes committed by individuals. You see in this country, people just talk a lot about issues that they generally do not understand,” Faal explained.
He continued: “If you look at the Farafenni attack it was a crime on the state. The killing of the soldiers was criminal and the state has investigated it and the criminals who committed the terrible act have been sent to jail or executed.
If the TRRC is to look into it, it would not look into it in the context of those who were killed in legitimate self defence of the state but the unlawful treatment meted out on those criminals who were arrested. Even as criminals they have rights but they were beaten and paraded to confess on TV and that act of the state using its power to torture them to confess is a human rights violation.”
He said it was the responsibility of the former regime to deal with the sufferings of the families of the slain soldiers in those attacks.
“I am not interested in the politics of things, whether the attack was unlawful or unjustified in the minds of other people. The important thing is that some laws have been violated in a criminal way and the state has responded according to the rules established to deal with crimes. So that criminal charter is done and dusted. The same thing applies to the December 2014 foiled coup because the crimes have been investigated and prosecuted by the state. Even if they were not investigated and prosecuted by the state, we are not interested in the crime, we are interested in the human rights violations that is how the state and its institutions have dealt with the people. Because the state has made a commitment to protect particular rights of the people and those are the rights guaranteed in the constitution,” he concluded.