Former Gambia President, Yahya Jammeh—whose 22-year-rule meted out mistreatment to Gambians and was characterized with a plethora of human rights violation—will face prosecution which will be led by the current administration of President Adama Barrow.
The Government of The Gambia affirmed this in its White Paper on the report of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) released on Wednesday, May 25, 2022.
The publication of the White Paper was held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre, presided over by the attorney general and justice minister, Dawda A. Jallow.
The government stated: “The Government accepted ALL the recommendations by the TRRC with regards to Prosecution, notable the prosecution of ex-President Yahya Jammeh, for a myriad of crimes committed between 1994 and 2017.
“The Government accepted the recommendations for the prosecution of ex-vice president Dr. Isatou Njie Saidy for her role in the April 10 and 11 student killings. Government further accepted the recommendation to deny her amnesty.”
Also, the Government said it will set up a decentralised Peace and Reconciliation Commission with the mandate of promoting peace, reconciliations and fostering social cohesion.
“Government will create a successor body to the TRRC with the mandate of administering reparations. The body will be independent from government and will have the authority to evaluate and identify new victims not identified by the TRRC,” the government’s White Paper stated.
This development will be greeted well, especially from the victims and human rights defenders, who have been asking justice to prevail for over half a decade now.
The Gambia government has rejected the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) amnesty recommendation for Sana Sabally, noting that the former AFPRC member bears a great responsibility for the killings of soldiers on November 11, 1994.
According to the White Paper, out of 265 recommendations made by the TRRC and considered by the government, only two have been rejected.
“The Government rejects the recommendation of the Commission as pertains to Sanna Sabally and notes that although he might have made full disclosure and showed remorse, Sanna is one of the individuals that bears the highest responsibility for gross human rights abuses and violations in the early days of the Jammeh regime, particularly the extrajudicial killing of many soldiers on November 11th 1994,” the government stated.
“The other recommendations for Amnesty besides were accepted by the Government subject to them providing witness testimony in the prosecution of individuals recommended for prosecution.”
Justice minister, Dawda A. Jallow, who presided over the publication of the white paper, said the implementation rate of over 99.2% of all recommendations is unprecedented in the history of Truth Commissions and he is convinced that they now have a clear road map towards reconciliation, justice, reparations and ensuring non-reoccurrence.
The publication was held on Wednesday at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre.
“We must however admit that the some of the conditions that made it possible for these atrocities to be committed still exist. This truth-seeking process will therefore be futile if we do not put in place long overdue comprehensive legislative and institutional reforms. The implementation of the TRRC’s recommendations is therefore anchored on broad based reforms which are at the centre of the Whitepaper.
“The Government lays a special emphasis on the TRRC’s recommendations on SGBV and recognises that SGBV was and continues to be widely prevalent in The Gambia. The Government further notes that many acts that constitute SGBV are not seen as a violation due to the patriarchal nature of the society which accepts discrimination against women and girls and shames male victims of SGBV into silence.
“Of particular concern to the Government is the alarming number of enforced disappearances that occurred under the direction of former President Jammeh and the continuous suffering of families who up until this day are unaware of the whereabouts of their loved ones or their remains. The Government is committed to working with key partners in finding the bodies of victims of enforced disappearances and bringing closure to their families.
“There is no doubt that the country has gone through a very traumatic experience and is in dire need of individual and collective healing as well as reconciliation, not just with the perpetrators of these human rights violations but with our past as a nation.
“Reconciliation must be balanced with the need to ensure accountability and that perpetrators who bear the greatest responsibility for human rights abuses are made to face justice and answer for their crimes.
“The Government shall continue to work towards mobilising additional financial resources for this process, including but not limited to the proceeds of the sale of forfeited assets belonging to ex-president Jammeh.
“We are gathered today full of hope for a better tomorrow. Today however is also a sombre reminder of the traumatic events that occurred between 1994 and 2017. We must therefore not forget the many victims of these violations especially those who lost their lives.”
“I am pleased to announce his Excellency the President’s decision to rename the July 22nd Arch to NEVER AGAIN MEMORIAL ARCH in honour of all the victims of gross human rights abuses and violations under the regime of former president Yahya Jammeh. The Government plans to renovate the Arch and erect a plaque with the names of the victims of the Jammeh regime. It is our hope that this memorial may be repurposed as a fitting reminder that Never Again shall we allow such heinous abuses and violations in our beloved country.
“The implementation must therefore be transparent and inclusive with clear timelines and measurable outcomes. Rest assured that the government is fully committed to the implementation as outlined in the Whitepaper. We have been given a unique opportunity to change the trajectory of our dear nation and posterity will judge us by our actions.
“… we note that certain individuals who have been adversely mentioned by the Commission continue to serve in various areas of the public and security services. The Government shall take steps for their immediate suspension from service while we work on a lawful means to effect their dismissal, termination or compulsory retirement as each case may require,” Minister Jallow said as stated in the official press release of the White Paper.