By Yankuba Jallow
The public hearings of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) have been suspended till the first week of June 2020.
The decision to put all public hearings on hold came in the wake of pronouncement by President Adama Barrow on Tuesday evening suspending all public gatherings.
Chairperson Lamin J. Sise said the Commission is not exempted from this pronouncement by the President and therefore, the public hearings cannot take place in the wake of the global pandemic, Coronavirus.
Sise said the TRRC will resume after the Ramadan. He detailed that the 21 days that the President pronounced will fall 8 days from the beginning of the Commission’s Ramadan break.
He urged Gambians to follow the World Health Organisation guidelines to prevent themselves from the Coronavirus pandemic.
A case of Coronavirus was confirmed by the Gambia Government on Tuesday evening and some other people were suspected of having this virus and they are under surveillance. The virus has killed many people around the world and the number of cases is on the rise every day.
The TRRC was established by an Act of the National Assembly to investigate past human rights violations in the Gambia from 22nd July 1994 to January 2020 under the APRC and AFPRC regimes. The Commission has two years mandate and they are in their second year. According to Chairperson Sise, their plan was to end the public hearings in October 2020 and focus on writing their Report in the remaining months. This schedule is most likely to be affected because the Commission will stay over two months without any public hearing.
The Commission has some thematic areas remaining and each of the thematic areas usually take three weeks or more. The Commission is yet to touch on the killing of 44 Ghanians and other nationals, former President Yahya Jammeh’s HIV/AIDS treatment programme, institutional hearing on the Prisons and the NIA among others.
TRRC suspends public hearings, outreach activities
In line with the directive from the Office of the President regarding the Gambia Government’s efforts to contain the Covid-19 crisis in the country, the TRRC has suspended its public hearings and all outreach activities with effect from Wednesday, March 18, 2020. As the end of this three-week suspension will coincide with the beginning of the Commission’s Ramadan break, public hearings will not resume until after the end of the month of Ramadan, around the first week of June. Outreach activities may resume when considered safe to do so.
The Commission’s Secretariat will also be partially closed. Staff may choose to come to the offices but are highly encouraged to work from home for the three-week period. Depending on how things turn out at the end of the three weeks, the Secretariat may resume full operations or remain partially closed except for essential business for as long as considered necessary.
The TRRC encourages all members of the public to please take all cautionary measures to avoid infection. May God bless and protect The Gambia and all Gambians and their families and loved ones everywhere.