By Omar Bah
The UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, has urged the Gambia government to implement in full the Janneh Commission recommendations.
Fabián Salvioli, who was in the country for an official two-day visit said the Gambian authorities should also make the Commission’s full report and recommendations public and accessible for transparency purposes.
The Barrow administration was criticised for snubbing the Janneh Commission’s recommendation on Chief Protocol Alhagie Ceesay, Finance minister Mamburray Njie and others.
The UN Rapporteur also told the Gambia government to proceed without delay and vet the institutions involved in the violations of the past and suspend the personnel suspected of committing crimes.
He said the suspension should be done immediately, pending final decisions from the TRRC or court.
He said the country’s authorities should as well publicly instruct security services and intelligence personnel to refrain from exercising excessive detention, pending the reform of their governing regulations.
He said the national strategy document for transitional justice in The Gambia noted that vetting and ejecting the individuals responsible for abuses from public office is an integral part of the process of restoring the trust of the victims and the society in state institutions.
This, he added, should involve using individual, case-by-case merits rather than collectively dismissing people. However, he said, “Until today, no vetting exercise has taken place in the affected institutions.”
“As noted by multiple stakeholders during my visit, individuals accused of perpetrating or enabling human rights abuses continue to work within civil and security services and well-known high-level enablers or perpetrators of the former regime were appointed as ministerial upper ranks, advisors, ambassadors and in other government positions,” he adduced.
He said he was at the TRRC’s witch-hunt hearings and was shocked to hear the violations perpetrated against innocent victims who were forced to drink poisonous concoctions that killed some and left survivors with serious medical conditions and disabilities.
“I have also received harrowing reports of the violations suffered by victims of Jammeh’s Alternative AIDS Treatment Programme, which led to many deaths and irreversible damages on the health and recovery of the survivors. These and other victims have been suffering mentally, emotionally and physically for years,” he said.
He stressed that Jammeh’s victims and their families have also been left stigmatised, isolated and without access to sources of livelihood and essential services.
“I express my solidarity with all of them. It is imperative that the government provides urgent rehabilitation measures tom all survivors, particularly medical and psychosocial care. This cannot wait until the reparations policy is designed and implemented,” he added.
During his visit, the Argentine human rights lawyer met government officials, civil society and human rights representatives, victims and survivors, and visited sites where torture, summary executions and enforced disappearances are believed to have taken place, such as Yundum, Kanilai barracks, former NIA headquarters and the infamous “Bambadinka” torture chamber.
He is expected to submit a full report on the visit to the UN Human Rights Council in 2020.