By Momodou Jarju
The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC), is engaging experts from outside and within the country to discuss the Reparations Regulations policy at a local hotel in Kololi.
The two-day event (Monday-Tuesday) is organized by the Africa and West Asia Programme of International IDEA (AWA IDEA) in partnership with TRRC, the Ministry of Justice, and the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The meeting is being held within the framework of the technical assistance to the transitional justice and international reform process in The Gambia.
Dr. Maurice Engueleguele, senior programme officer international IDEA, said reparations are key components of the transitional processes.
He said it is also an issue of honesty and accountability and for international IDEA it is a question of rebuilding societies and ensuring an inclusive future for all citizens of countries, including victims.
“There are a lot of types or models of designing reparations policies across the world. And our two days experts’ workshop intends to discuss them. We are not here to teach other, but we are here to share experiences,” he said.
Dr. Mautrice hoped they would get the best reparations regulations policy for The Gambia, while adding that they would continue to support the initiative next year, 2020.
Dr. Julien Attakla-Aayinon, representative of the UNDP Transitional Justice Programme said reparations can make the transitional justice process as well as break the entire process if not handled properly.
He said it is one of the unique components of transitional justice that touches all the other components of transitional justice.
“Which means when the truth seeking process is properly handled and truth is uncovered, this provides a sense of satisfaction and a sense of reparations and happiness to some victims and families,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the TRRC, Sosseh said the meeting marks an important milestone on the work of TRRC, saying reparations to victims are key elements to The Gambia’s transitional process.
She said the right to reparation of victims of gross violations of human rights is well founded in the 2017 TRRC Act, which gives the commission the authority to give reparations.
“Reparations are also well founded in the AU Transitional Justice Policy and the international justice law and takes cognizance of traditional and religious practices. Those who have suffered human rights violations deserve acknowledgement of these violations and appropriate action taken to provide redress,” she said.
She said they are working on the draft policy of the reparations regulations but needed the input of experts which is part of the work plan of the TRRC Reparations Committee which she chairs.
“So the regulations were being drawn. The policy had been drawn a long while ago and had been adopted by the TRRC. But the regulations have so many obstacles on its way because we could not agree on what should be in and what should not be put in,” she said.
She thanked both Dr. Maurice and Dr. Julien for their swift, positive and respectful responses to take part in the meeting.
Kebba Jom, representative of the Victims’ Center for Human Rights Violations, said they appreciated the recently established Trust Fund in which the Gambia Government has deposited 50 million dalasis.
“We expect that the reparations policy that would be developed from this gathering would be equitable and transparent and would be able to address the huge expectations of victims,” he said.