NHRC Concludes Stakeholder Training On Victim, Witness Protection

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By Assan Bah

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), on Thursday March 29th 2024, concluded a four day capacity building training workshop on the witness protection policy aimed at safeguarding the rights and wellbeing of victims and witnesses.

The training which was funded by the American Bar Association (ABA) and USAID, brought together members of the various security and rights institutions at a local hotel in Kololi.

The Commission which is mandated to promote and protect human rights in the Gambia, said it already has its witness protection policy in place, but said there is need for a national protection framework.

Emmanuel Daniel Joof, the Chairperson of the NHRC said part of his Commission’s mandate is to guide and ensure that victims, witnesses and informers are protected and that they are also mandated to guide and assist the Government to formulate polices to guard human rights. He said the Commission has also provided advisory notes on various pressing issues to the Government, and expressed gratitude to their partners for supporting the initiative.

“We are in it together, and our journey is to create a society where the rule of law and justice will prevail,’’ he said; That victims, witnesses and informers need to be protected to avoid them from being harassed or targeted  

Sindayigaya Elysee, the Chief of party and Country Director of the American Bar Association (ABA), said the protection of victims and witnesses policy is long overdue, but said the Commission has already made progress towards this and has already developed and validated the policy, the content of which is being spread to all the relevant stakeholders.

He said he is of the view that there is no justice without the protection of victims and witnesses. “If victims do not feel comfortable to tell their story, truth will never see justice,’’ he said.

Representing the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms Yvonne Masarakufa said the protection of the rights and dignity of those who testify before courts, is required under the relevant provision of human rights treaties particularly the international covenant on civil and constitutional rights.

“Securing victim and witness testimonies is to ensure that justice is served and perpetrators are held accountable for their crimes. Our ability to provide justice will be questionable if the justice we provide is unable to secure protection,’’ she said. She commended the Commission for its commitment to ensure that the rights of individuals are protected and reiterates that her office congratulates the Commission for the successful formulation of a victim and witness protection policy.