On launch of TRRC

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

President Adama Barrow yesterday launched the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission of The Gambia. TRRC was set up to probe into human right atrocities committed during the past 22 years as well as encourage national reconciliation and ensure that such horrors never again occur.

Justice cannot be done without a full account of what had happened. And Gambian victims deserve a truth commission that gives them a platform to tell their stories and lays the groundwork for those most responsible for grave crimes to face justice.

Between 1994 and 2016, Gambian citizens suffered numerous human rights violations. These include murder, extra judicial killings, torture, enforced disappearances, physical assaults, arbitrary arrests and detention, the arbitrary closure of media outlets and the systemic intimidation and harassments of influential and critical voices who spoke out.  Many of these brutal tortures were perpetrated by Jammeh’s hit-squad who has no regard for any soul in the country then. There were no mechanisms for access to justice for victims of human rights violations and the perpetrators go unpunished.

It is important to note that Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission is a new phenomenon in Africa. As rightly stated by the president, this is the 6th Truth Commission to be launched in Africa.  South Africa established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission after apartheid ended in 1994 and one in Sierra-Leone after the end of the brutal civil war. Protecting the rights of citizenry from the scourge of war is in line with the rule of law.

The aim is to encourage people to confess crimes committed under the previous government and for victims to air injustices they suffered. Reparations can also be set. Therefore, the launch of the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission would go a long way in healing old wounds committed in the past 22 years.

The Gambian is known for its peace and stability. The move demonstrates the new government’s commitment to the fulfillment of democratic principles and ideals ad to say never again to impunity and violation of human rights abuses. Thus, TRRC is the first step in efforts to bring justice to victims and hold those responsible for serious crimes accountable.

“The dead cannot cry out for justice. It is a duty of the living to do so for them.”

Lois McMaster Bujold