TRRC warns it would not tolerate any attempt of obstruction

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The deputy chairperson, Adelaide Sosseh at the 3rd Session of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) said that TRRC would not tolerate person who attempt to obstruct the Commission work or who tries to distract from its work by vilifying the integrity of the Commission or commissioners.

She made this declaration on Monday, 11 March, 2019 when the commission resumed sitting.

“The TRRC stands resolute in carrying out its mandate to the best of its ability without fear or favour and as mandated by the TRRC Act 2017,” she remarked.

She disclosed that the medical board set up by the Ministry of Health at the request of the TRRC has already started reviewing cases of victims that have been referred to them. Based on their assessments and recommendations, the commission would decide on the next course of action to take in relation to their medical treatment.

She said a draft reparations policy and rules of procedures have been developed and have been shared with relevant partners for their input so that reparations for those cases that can’t wait can be addressed as ‘quickly, fairly and efficiently as possible.’

She indicated that the Victims Support Unit is working closely with the registered victims and the Medical Board and other units of the TRRC to ensure that victims needing urgent psycho-social support and physical and mental treatment are given the necessary attention.

Madam Deputy Chairperson stated that all witnesses who appear before the Commission are provided with pre, during and post counseling support services.

She said that the session would run from the 11th to 28th of March, 2019, adding that the Commission would continue to hear testimonies of witnesses related to the November 11th 1994 incident and the death in June 1995 of Ousman Koro Ceesay, a former Finance minister in the erstwhile Jammeh regime.

She further stated that follow-up assessments are also conducted with the witness and their family where necessary, adding that a team of paramedics from the Fire and Ambulance Services is always on standby during hearings to give the necessary treatment when required for witnesses, Commissioners and staff of the TRRC.

She thanked all the arms of the TRRC for carrying out their tasks in a highly professional manner.

She stated that the break period is critical to other activities of the Commission, adding that during the period, the Commissioners were able to hold Committee meetings and participate in outreach activities in collaboration with other units of the TRRC.

She stated that the Commission is interested in hearing more testimonies in relation to November 11th 1994 and the death of Ousman Koro Ceesay to clarify issues on the events and circumstances leading to what actually happened on these fateful days and to ascertain those who were the main actors.

She disclosed that during the 2nd Session of the TRRC, which ran from the 11th February to the 28th February 2019, the Commission heard testimonies from 12 witnesses and the testimonies were related to the July 22nd 1994 coup d’etat, the November 11th 1994 incident and the death of Ousman Koro Ceesay.

She further disclosed that the 12 witnesses added to make the total of witnesses who have testified before the Commission to 25 witnesses.

She pointed out that the majority of the witnesses are serving or former members of the Armed forces and other arms of the security services (the police and the prisons).

She disclosed that five of the witnesses were civilians including former government ministers, civil servants and one businessman whilst six were distant.

She indicated that three of the distant witnesses had to testify through video conferencing and the Commission facilitated travel of the other three to testify in person, adding that all the witnesses testified voluntarily before the Commission.

She further indicated that all the witnesses were male and noted that it is expected that as the TRRC progresses, female witnesses would come forward to testify.

She said few female witnesses have given statements to the Commission and these are being studied by the research, the investigations and the legal team.

She revealed that with regard to the people who have been adversely mentioned at the Commission’s hearings, the TRRC in line with the TRRC Act, ‘all adversely mentioned persons have been /will be served with notices of adverse mention.’

“A person who is served with an adverse mention notice has the choice of voluntarily coming to the TRRC to give their statements and to testify before the Commission, if they choose not to do so they may be summoned or subpoenaed to appear before the TRRC,” she said.

 She explained that education support is already being provided for children of victims who had their education interrupted.

She thanked the Abiding Word Ministry for not only providing bottled water to the Commission but also reaching out to some of the victims to provide psycho-social and spiritual support and guidance.

She maintained that TRRC values constructive criticism and will do all it could to address those criticisms when they occur.

Author: Bruce Asemota