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TRRC extends mandate rubbishes APRC witch-hunt claims

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By Omar Bah

The chairman of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission Dr Lamin Sise has disclosed that they have obtained approval of the president to extend their mandate to 30th September 2021.

The TRRC was expected to submit its report this Friday.

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Addressing a press briefing on the extension, Dr Sise said: “Notwithstanding the heavy schedule of work devoted to completing the draft report, the Commission informed the Attorney General on 27 July that it needed more time (about eight weeks) to complete all 16 volumes of the report and other important documents”.

He said the AG in his capacity as the line-minister for the TRRC, confirmed the new date on behalf of the Office of the President.

Sise said the minister has assured him that the government will fully fund the extension requested to complete the report.

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“Considering that the commission received 2600 statements and heard testimonies from 393 witnesses covering 16 themes, the report writing process was a daunting task for the commission. The team involved in the process is working round the clock to make sure it is given the attention it deserves,” he said.

He said the work to be completed during the eight week extension period include the finalisation of the sixteen volumes, each containing overview, findings, and recommendations on soldiers with a difference, November 11th 1994, extra judicial killings of security officers, unlawful killing of Finance Minister Ousman Koro Ceesay, the convoy of the President – accidents and deaths, April 10 and 11, 2000, attacks on Freedom of Expression and the Media, attacks on religious leaders, the Junglers – unlawful killings, tortures and  other Human rights violations, the Presidential Alternative Treatment (HIV/AIDS) Programme, sexual and Gender based Violence, President Witch Hunt exercise, enforced Disappearances, killing of West African Migrants, institutional hearings – National Intelligence Agency (NIA), institutional Hearings – Prisons, institutional Hearings – Justice Sector Institutions, sixteen volumes of transcripts of the Commission’s Public Hearings, TRRC’s Outreach Engagements, activity Report, republic Hearings and witness Portrait Album.

Meeting with Justice Minister

Commenting on his reported meeting with the AG on Tuesday, Sise said the Minister of Justice wanted to know what exactly the commission was going to present to the president on Friday.

“We told him that the work is not complete but we will go ahead and submit to the president a compendium which would consist of some of the findings and recommendations of the Commission and a few other volumes,” he explained.

But Sise said the Minister thought that “was not a complete presentation. We exchanged views on it and the suggestion then emerged that we should complete and then give a full report to the president and not partial submission.”

He said the justice minister had insisted that the TRRC should submit a complete report just like other commissions.

However, he made it clear that the commission is not under any pressure from anybody.

“I don’t think anybody is putting pressure on us. In the first place no one will be able to do that, we are an independent entity and we guard our independence very well,” he said.

Meanwhile, chairman Sise used the occasion to reject claims by the former ruling APRC party that the truth commission was engaged in witch-hunt.

“There is no witch hunting referred to in the TRRC mandate at all. So to claim that the National Assembly established a witch-hunting entity is not realistic,” Sise told journalists.

On Monday, the APRC leader Fabakary Tombong Jatta led supporters and senior executive members of the party to Banjul to express their frustration and disappointment over the process of the truth commission and present a petition to the government about it.

The party complained about the appointment of TRRC’s chairperson Dr Lamine Sise, executive secretary Dr Baba Galleh Jallow, Adelaide Sosseh and Alagie Saidy-Barrow into the truth commission.

However, in his reaction at the press briefing chairman Sise contended: “I don’t say they don’t have a right to have their views about the commission because this is a democracy; they can say whatever they need to say but with regard to other points that [they] raised, I think they should read the mandate of the commission”.

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