By Mustapha Jallow
Senior officials of the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) on Tuesday trained legal staff of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General on International Criminal Law and International Human Rights Law.
Organised by IHRDA in collaboration with the Justice Ministry and Global Initiative for Justice, Truth & Reconciliation, the 4-day training was supported by the American Bar Association (ABA), Rule of Law Initiative.
Participants ranging from senior prosecutors, counsels and lawyers under MoJ, were capacitated and charged to gather evidence, leading investigations and prosecutions of serious crimes identified by Gambia’s Truth Commission (TRRC).
Held at International Conference Centre in Bijilo on 19 April 2022, the training brought together diplomats, representatives of human rights organisations, government officials and lawyers.
It also aims to equip and strengthen the technical capacity of these participants to effectively deliver on its role in the on-going transitional justice processes in The Gambia, notably leading in accountability for past crimes and violations committed under the rule of former dictator Yahya Jammeh.
While declaring the session open, Dawda A. Jallow, the Attorney General & Minister of Justice, urged participants to be effectively engaged and forget about what they have learnt in the university instead they should concentrate more on the practical aspects.
“We will soon start working on the material of the TRRC as soon as the white paper is out, the next step is implementation. So, implementation means work. Even you are going going to rely on expertise from outside The Gambia. Like I started, we want those experts to work with you so that you can develop skills in the process,” he told participants.
Minister Jallow also encouraged participants to make the session more interactive and participatory as it helps during the implementation of the TRRC, particularly the issue of prosecutions and investigations.
Representing US Embassy in Banjul, Ms Haley Costello, Political-Economic Unit at the US Embassy, called on Gambians and its government to support the democratic development of The Gambia as well as strengthen the rule of law.
For his part, Mr Elysee Sindayigaya – ABA’s Chief of Party for Justice and Rights Programme, said the training is one of many activities that ABA implements in The Gambia to enhance technical capacity of the ministry of justice to fill its justice and accountability mandate in the immediate post-TRRC period.
According to him, survivors of gross human rights violations cannot rebuild their lives and contribute fully to society without justice and recognition of the crimes they suffered as well as the stigma they face.
“This training workshop will enable MoJ staff to understand the nature and elements of individual crimes, key concepts relevant to ICL and prosecution of international crimes, as well as the various strategies and mechanisms available. It will also cover substantive content and technical skills-building,” said Sindayigaya.