The Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations has issued a statement expressing dissatisfaction with the decision of the Justice Ministry to release three ‘Junglers’.
This came after the Attorney General called a press conference to defend their decision towards releasing the three ‘Junglers who confessed before the TRRC of killing many people and also committing torture, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances during the former dispensation.
This decision doesn’t go down well with the victim center, and that they expressed concern about the Government’s decision on the matter without consulting them (Victim Center) whose loved ones are directly involved.
It stated “the Victims Center (VC) held a short meeting with the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to convey our concerns and disagreement towards the remarks he made on QTV regarding the possible release of the three ‘jungulers’ without consulting the Victims Center, nor the victim’s representatives.”
According to the release the Minister cited among other things that his decision was based on the fact that the said ‘jungulers’ were detained beyond the time limit prescribed by the Constitution and also a strategic decision to ensure the preservation of justice in the long term.
“We are mindful of the fact that their detention beyond the Constitutional time limit is a violation of their fundamental rights,” the release pointed out. It further stated, “however, this violation doesn’t in any way negate their full criminal responsibility for the atrocious crimes they committed, neither does it absolve the responsibility of the State to prosecute them.”
The center highlighted that the Minister’s decision was a quick one, which they believe needed dialogue and further consultation with victims and other stakeholders to reach a compromising decision. “Such a decision will undoubtedly undermine the national reconciliation and healing efforts ushered by the ongoing truth-seeking process of the TRRC,” it underscored.
The release added “The number of accused persons, the quantity of evidence, and the prejudice it will render will be contradictory to the ongoing national reconciliation and healing efforts.” It stated, “On that basis, any decision concerning ‘jungulers’ that doesn’t critically take these factors into account falls short of reasonableness and rationality.”
“It is the duty of the Gambia Government; more so the Ministry of Justice to ensure rights of detainees are respected,” the victim center acknowledged.
The Victims Center, however, in its view, reminded the Gambia Government of its duty to investigate and prosecute crimes of torture and extrajudicial killings exist in both conventional and customary international law. The Gambia ratified the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights in 1983. It also acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1979. Both protect the rights of victims to remedy and of State responsibility to end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes.
The statement concludes, “The Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations will continue to work with relevant partners to facilitate justice to victims, through national, regional and international mechanisms to ensure that peace continues to prevail in the country,” adding that not only must justice be done but must also be seen to be done.”