Statement by the Chair, Dr. Lamin J. Sise, at the opening of the Seventeenth Session of the TRRC’s public hearings

Nov 10, 2020, 10:40 AM

Today, Monday 9 November, 2020, the TRRC will begin its 17th three-week session of public hearings. As at the end of the 16th session, the Commission had heard testimonies from 277 witnesses. Of these, 209 were male and 68 were female.

 Out of the total number of witnesses appearing before the Commission so far, 168 were victims and 50 were self-confessed perpetrators and adversely mentioned persons. Twenty-seven witnesses have testified via video link from the Gambian Diaspora. These hearings also included several protected witnesses and in-camera testimonies.

On 21 October 2020, the Commission concluded its public hearings on the Presidential Alternative Treatment Programme (PATP). Among other things, I, in my capacity as Chairman, read for the record of the Commission the names of thirty-one individuals who died either during the treatment programme or shortly after leaving it. These unfortunate souls, the majority of them citizens of The Gambia, were victims of the State who were lured into the PATP, having been told that the President of The Republic of The Gambia could cure HIV/AIDS, the ailment afflicting these individuals. It was a brazen and mendacious claim! The treatment, in all its manifestations, constituted a gross violation and abuse of the human rights of these patients. Again, for the record, the thirty-one individuals are the following:

  1. Those that died during the treatment:
  1. Fatou Ceesay
  2. Nyima Keita
  3. Mariama Jawara
  4. Fatou Sonko
  5. Anago
  6. Lamin Dampha
  7. Adama Jobarteh
  8. Malick Jeng
  9. Lamin Jarjue
  10. Lamin Batiya
  1. Those that died after the treatment:
  1. Haruna Bojang
  2. Amadou Jammeh
  3. Karafa Jarju Ousman
  4. Ansumana Dampha
  5. Musa Dibbasey
  6. Mariama Tamba
  7. Tida Gibba
  8. Kebba Saidy
  9. Ya Fatou Sanyang
  10. Pa Badjie
  11. Rabiatou Bah
  12. Banna Jallow
  13. Olimatou Jammeh
  14. Adama Samba
  15. Fatou Trawalleh
  16. Sunkary Bojang
  17. Saffiatou Sanneh
  18. Lamin Sanneh
  19. Mai Sanneh
  20. Adama Sanneh
  21. Sonah Bah

The Commission will draw its conclusions on these violations and abuses and the death of these vulnerable individuals. May their souls rest in peace.

In carrying out its mandate to create an impartial historical record of violations and abuses of human rights in The Gambia during the period July 1994 to January 2017, the Commission commenced on 22 October 2020, institutional hearings on the NIA which will provide a backdrop against which the violations and abuses occurred. The hearings are not intended to absolve anyone of individual responsibility but rather to provide the institutional context that facilitated the commission of the violations and abuses by state-agents or sponsored perpetrators.

The findings and conclusions reached by the Commission from these hearings will hopefully be designed to help transform and reform the institutions that aided and enabled the commission of the violations, including the establishment of oversight bodies to monitor and respond to such violations.

As we continue our public hearings, this Commission reaffirms its commitment to execute to the best of its ability, and without fear or favor, affection or ill will, the mandate entrusted to it by the Gambian people through their National Assembly.

We renew our call to all victims of human rights violations between July 1994 and January 2017, and all persons who may have helpful information to please come forward and give statements or share their stories with us. We reassure all potential witnesses that their confidentiality is fully guaranteed. And as usual, we crave the public’s continued support and prayers as together we continue this important journey.

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