By Yankuba Jallow
TRRC’s Executive Secretary Dr. Baba Galeh Jallow, has reiterated the Commission’s call for more women victims to come forward to give their statements.
Dr. Galleh Jallow said the Commission has had to grapple with many challenges, including the difficulty of convincing some witnesses especially female victims, to come forward and give their statements.
“In some cases, people are yet to understand that giving statements does not necessarily mean they have to testify or that they could always testify behind closed doors, or as protected witnesses whose identities will not be made public. Fear of retaliation, stigma, ridicule or ethnic and family pressure, has kept witnesses from coming forward and this is a challenge that the TRRC is resolved to continue working on in the New Year,” Jallow said.
He said there are segments of Gambian society that are still reluctant to participate in the TRRC process for any number of reasons.
“The Commission will continue engaging all Gambians with a view to soliciting their participation in this collective national conversation and healing process,’’ he said; that the TRRC also has to deal with the challenge of female witness who are shamed and threatened.
“Some women who have publicly testified before the Commission, have been objects of ridicule, insults and even threats from some members of the public. This unfortunate situation has the effect of discouraging all but the most courageous female victims from coming forward and sharing their stories with the Gambian public or even submitting statements to the Commission,” he said.
Jallow called for the support of the media and civil society organizations on this issue, to help create more awareness about the role of TRRC. He said the Commission is faced with the challenge of funding.
“While the Gambia Government has contributed D50 million to the TRRC’s reparations fund, this is far from enough to cover the Commission’s reparations obligations. Individual Gambians, civil society organizations and members of the International Community, are therefore encouraged to explore ways and means of supporting the TRRC’s fundraising efforts in order to complement the Government and the public’s contributions to provide reparations to hundreds of victims of human rights violations. We are hopeful that the Government will fulfil its promise to make further contributions to the TRRC Reparations Fund in 2020,” he said.