By Nelson Manneh
The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) Lead Counsel, Essa Faal, has on Wednesday 5th May 2021 explained the reasons that led them to the extension of their public hearings till end of May 2021.
Faal said they still have a bit of work to do in order to complete the mandated tasks of the truth commission.
“There are still a list of outstanding activities that are yet to be completed and these activities are based on evidence or information that has already been conducted and there are still some gaps which need to be filled and we have come up with a revised work plan,” he said.
Faal said the first and the most significant work they need to do is based on the mandate on the issues of disappearance. He said they are mandated to establish the fate of the persons who have disappeared.
“We have done extensive work in this area, but there still remains some work to do. So, the commission will in house do evidential analysis, look at what has been done so far on this particular subject to determine the fate of the victims and their whereabouts and give recommendations to the government,” he said.
Faal said the commission has been able to determine the fate of some of the victims and their whereabouts during the cause of its investigation.
He said the commission was able to establish some enforced disappearances like Daba Marena, Malafie Corr, Ebou Lowe, and Alpha Bah, whom the State said their vehicle somersaulted and those individuals escaped. He said that was the story given by the government at the time, but the TRRC has established that they were executed by the “Junglers” (the hit-squad of former President Jammeh).
“The other points we need to look at are the unlawful killings in which we started some of the investigations, but did not carry it to a conclusion. One example was Mariama Camara was killed at Hamza Barracks together with her husband. We have established the facts of the killings, but we are yet to establish who actually carry out the killings and the attempted assassination of Ousman Sillah,” he said.
He said that the Commission should also embark on-site visits.
Faal said a lot of questions are raised about investigating the 30th December attack, but according to him, that attack is not part of the Commission’s mandate because they are not tasked to investigate crimes, but rights violations. He said 30th December would just expose people that have participated to give context of the Commission’s work. He said it was not intentional not to hear some victims.
Lead Counsel Faal said evidence adduced by Sillah-Ba Samateh, which was corroborated by a private witness, disclosed to the Commission that former President Yahya Jammeh did sacrifice babies in Kanilai. He said this accusation needs more investigations to remove it from the rim of accusations to a substantiated case on this matter, as of now is an issue of allegation.
“The Commission also hopes to call two more witnesses on Sexual and Gender-based Violence. There are still some more witnesses to make the Commission better understand who exactly Yahya Jammeh was,” he said.
He said issues surrounding the Lang Tombong Tamba case also need to be known, to reveal who did what, what actually happened and the witnesses involved.
TRRC Chairman, Dr. Lamin J. Sise, said they have announced that they will conclude their public hearings by end of April 2021. He said as a Commission, they have reviewed that work plan and revised their calendar and that the public hearings will continue up to the end of May 2021 and concludes the business of the Truth Commission on 30th June 2021.
Chairman Sise said the Commission will endeavor to finish issues highlighted by Lead Counsel in the month of May 2021 and submit its report early July.