By Assan Bah
Jainaba Johm, Vice Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has called on the Government to fully implement the recommendations of the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC), entailed in the government white paper report.
Ms Johm made this call on Wednesday August 30th 2023, during the periodic interface with victims and victim organizations on the implementation of the Government White Paper on the TRRC recommendations.
Held at a local hotel in Kololi, the interface was attended by commissioners from the NHRC, victims and victims’ representatives, UN representatives, representatives from the Ministry of Justice and other stakeholders.
Delivering her opening remarks, Ms Johm said this was the first ever dialogue and said it was part of the TRRC’s goals to ensure that victims receive justice. She said her institutions’ mandate is to promote and protect human rights, further saying that the commission was one of the organizations mandated to monitor the implementation process of the TRRC report and recommendations.
“As we continue to monitor the level of implementation of the report, we realize how important it is to bring victim organizations closer to us, to dialogue with them and hear their views,” Ms Johm said. The vice chairperson commended the victims and victim led organizations for their continued commitment and cooperation with the NHRC, and for agreeing to be part of such interface dialogue. She also commended the victims for their courage to give their testimonies and said they would have not done anything in the absence of the victim’s testimonies. She further said that “the NHRC has an MoU with the Victim Centre and promised to be a mouthpiece for the victims since the commission has the mandate to monitor the implementation of the TRRC recommendations”.
Ms Johm assured of her commission’s readiness to support victims with moral, psychological and other forms of assistance and urged the government to fully implement the recommendation on the white paper. She recommends for government to adopt a sectoral approach towards the implementation of the TRRC recommendations in order to ensure that all the recommendations are fulfilled. She commended the government through the Ministry of Justice for giving a timeline and recommendation strategy, and the UN for the support.
Representing the UN Resident Coordinator, Dr. Desta Tiruneh reiterated the importance of ensuring that no one is left behind in the implementation of the TRRC recommendations.
“Every government has a core duty in ensuring that every citizen enjoys his or her valuable right and freedom, and the TRRC recommendations are aligned with the tenants of the rights and freedoms on the universal declaration of rights and freedoms and other international human rights conventions, which the Gambia is a member to,” he said. He commended the NHRC’s commitment in ensuring that victims are not left behind in the transitional justice process and recognised government’s efforts within the transitional justice period, and assured the UN’s commitment in collaborating and supporting the government during this period.
Bailo Saidykhan thanked the human right commission for providing the avenue for the victims to voice their concerns and called for more government support in implementing the recommendations on reparation process.
Hussein Thomasi, Solicitor General and Legal Secretary who represented the Minister of Justice, said government has already released its implementation plan of the White paper. He said the plan consists of how the government will implement each recommendation and the cost attach to it, and the entity responsible for its implementation. He assured that his ministry will do all it can within its mandate, to ensure that the TRRC recommendations are implemented holistically. Mr Thomasi said the ultimate goal of the Victim’s bill is to ensure that no one is left behind, and called on the victims who have not participated in the TRRC process to come forward.
“Matters relating to reparations and justice are top of the government’s agenda. We have successfully gazetted the victim’s reparation bill, and Government will prioritise the bill such as the reparation bill; banning from public office bill; the commission of enquiry bill and the vetting bill, before the National Assembly. He said one of the major challenges for Government within the transition program is holding perpetrators accountable.
“The government has put in place a special accountability mechanism bill (a special prosecution unit and special tribunal that will be based on a treaty with the economic Community of the West African States (ECOWAS) and will be structured in the form of a hybrid court,” he said, and asked for more time by assuring government’s commitment in implementing all the recommendations.