Capacity Building for CSOs, media underway

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A four-day capacity building for members of Civil Society Organizations and media professionals on transitional justice is currently underway at a hotel in Bakau.

The training, which is being organized by the Ministry of Justice in partnership with UNDP, TANGO, PBSO and OHCHR, is funded by the United Nations Peace-building Support Office. The training seeks to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) and media professionals by promoting amongst them an improved understanding of the conceptual framework of transitional justice holistically.

Mrs Nessie Golakai-Gould, the deputy resident representative disclosed that the training would amongst other things, present an essential opportunity to engage CSOs and the media who are key partners to the government of The Gambia in its plans to successfully complete a transitional justice process in the country after 22 years of dictatorship.

The training, she went on, is aimed at strengthening the participant’s knowledge and attitude by equipping them with the necessary skills and tools such as Truth Commissions, criminal prosecutions and institutional reforms for non-recurrence of human rights violations.

She indicated that the training workshop is also meant to clarify the role that CSOs could play in making transitional justice an effective and successful tool for improved rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights in The Gambia.

She underscored The Gambia government’s commitment towards actualizing the various transitional justice mechanisms such as the Truth, Reconciliation, Reparations Commission, the Constitutional Review Commission and the National Human Rights Commission.

Transitional Justice, she added, has always proved to be a complex, multi-layer, multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary initiative which requires a top-down but most importantly a bottom-top approach to ensure that the people and the victims remain at all times at the center of the process.

Mrs N Golakai-Gould outlined that one of the overall and compelling goal of the training is to ensure and enhance partnership on cross-cutting issues related to transitional justice; partnership between transitional mechanisms and CSOs and media professionals; partnership that are not only to respond to contemporary transitional justice needs of the country, but are also able to focus on a longer-term prevention of human suffering caused by bad governance, breakdown of state institutions, brutal repression and violations of human rights.

She assured the participants of the UN’s unwavering support to The Gambia Government and CSOs commitment to ensuring accountability for the past human right violations and abuses, to promote justice, reconciliation and healing after 22 years of oppression.

She acknowledged the presence of Mr. Howard Varney speaks volume, as he travelled all the way from South Africa to co-facilitate the training and share his knowledge and experience.

She also congratulated the team of facilitators’ and the entire team that has worked relentlessly to prepare the training workshop.

The Solicitor General and Legal Secretary, Cherno Marenah underscored the role of CSOs and the media, pointing out that  that The Gambia TRRC model is a unique one.

The transitional justice process, he pointed out, is like a jigsaw of which the media and the CSOs are very important component.

SG Marenah noted that the training of CSOs and the media professionals are part of the process, saying at the end of the training it is expected that they would be able to play their role in managing the society.

He enjoined the media to be active players in the transitional justice process and not the noise makers.

The solicitor general emphasized the need for The Gambia to have a credible TRRC and not just the existing type, describing TRRC as the ‘Baby’ of the minister of Justice.

The legal secretary reiterated that The Gambia came from a period of lack of capacity, citing the need for forensic examination in getting the right information and evidence in cases of exhuming bodies.

“It is better not to have anybody to bury than to bury the wrong bodies” he stated.

Mrs Joanna Rice of the International Centre for Transitional Justice, on behalf of the Executive Secretary of TRRC, Dr Baba Galleh Jallow thanked the participants for taking time to attend the training workshop and challenged them to spread the messages to the public. 

Author: Bruce Asemota