By Nelson Manneh & Abdoulie Fatty
The Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) Party, on Monday 26th July 2021 held a peaceful march from Arch 22 to the Ministry of Justice and handed over a petition to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice for onward transmission to the Head of State President Adam Barrow.
Alhajie Fabakary Tonbong Jatta the interim party leader of the APRC said their petition is not about the recommendation of the TRRC as they did not see the final report of the commission’s recommendations. He said the petition is about the appointment of some of the commissioners and staff of the commission and the process of the TRRC throughout its public hearings.
Jatta opined that they are not opposing the TRRC investigation into the alleged activities of their government because they were in government for over 22 years and it is people’s rights to find out some of the allegations leveled against them.
“What we wanted is for it to be done transparently, honestly for the greater interest of the Gambian people,” he said.
He said from the outset, the whole activities of the Truth Commission have been compromised.
“We want when the TRRC’s final report is out, let it be put in a wastepaper basket just like the Constitutional Review Commission report,” he said.
Jatta said the 1997 constitution is the supreme law of the land, therefore; it cannot be compromised.
“It is not owned by an individual and the appointment of Dr. Lamin Sise is illegal because section 201 of the 1997 constitution made it clear as to who can be appointed to a commission of inquiry and who should serve as a chairperson of a commission of inquiry,” he said.
Jatta said Dr. Lamin Sise was not qualified to be appointed as the chairman of the Truth Commission. He said the whole process of the TRRC should have been to establish the truth, encourage reconciliation and reparation of victims of human rights violations. Therefore, he said they were expecting people, who have expertise in those areas, to be appointed and a senior military officer should have been a member of the panel in order to determine and interpret the operation of the security forces as per their Act.
He faulted the appointment of some commissioners and secretariat staff, saying those people were not qualified to be appointed as members of the truth commission.
“In the case of Yankuba Touray, the former Minister of Justice said he will teach Yanks a lesson and he (Yankuba) was charged for the murder of Ousman Koro Ceesay and he is convicted. Instead, Yankuba should have been prosecuted for contempt of the TRRC,” Jatta said.
He said since the appointments of individuals at the TRRC were illegal, the outcome of the commission should be treated as wastepaper. The APRC executive said they will not preempt their petition and that they will share the content of the petition after it reaches the president.
Dodou Jah, the Deputy Spokesperson of the APRC party said: “We want the president to read the petition that we are giving to him through the Justice Minister before giving it out to the media. We will give it to the media outlets perhaps tomorrow.”
The Solicitor General, who received the petition on behalf of the Minister of Justice, commended the APRC leader for conducting their march pass and handing over their petition without any violence.
“I am directed by the Minister of Justice to come and collect your petition and I will deliver it to him,” said the Solicitor General.