By Omar Bah
As the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission was launched yesterday, The Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violation has confirmed that they have received an initial total of over 1000 complaints of victimization of various types linked to the Jammeh regime. Some of them who lost fathers, sons and uncles joined President Barrow and scores of other local and international dignitaries at the launch.
Addressing the gathering at the Dunes hotel, the seat of the TRRC, President Barrow said:
“Let us stand together to say never again shall a few suppress us as a nation. Never shall this beautiful smiling coast experience the oppression and tyranny of the minority against the majority.”
The president said his government deliberately appointed human rights lawyers as Minister of Justice and Chief Justice to ensure that human rights violations are no more perpetrated against Gambians.
“We must stand resolutely as one people and united with the command belief that we can set aside our differences that confront our past while holding onto the promise of a brighter future. As Gambians and as a united people our common experience remains our greatest teacher as we move to build a new Gambia that will have respect for human rights,” the president said.
He called on Gambians to work together to promote reconciliation and allow the country to heal.
President Barrow said the establishment of the TRRC is not an isolated development in his government’s pursuit of a new Gambia, adding that commission was born out of the aspirations of a people who decided that they want a society where truth and justice prevail.
“We believe that in order for the process to be meaningful the TRRC must be free from all forms of outside influence. This is why the appointment of the commissioners was done in a very transparent manner that was never demonstrated in this country before,” he added.
He went on: “As a government we feel that apart from establishing the truth and fostering national reconciliation there is a crucial need to put the victims at the center of the process. Whiles we appreciate that we cannot in all cases restore the circumstances in which the victims where prior to the abuses they suffered, we can offer various forms of redress to deserving victims or their families”.
He reminded the commissioners that the hope of the nation lays on their shoulders and “we are confident that you will deliver to the best of your ability”.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Justice, Ba Tambadou said whiles the departure of the former president marks a very significant turning point in the Gambia, he has left behind a legacy that included many of the factors or causes of conflict.
This, he added, included decades of authoritarian rule characterised by gross human rights violations including torture, enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest, detention without trial and murder perpetrated by state agency, a deeply polarised society based on ethnic and political consideration, ethnic hatred manifested through hateful propaganda targeted at certain ethnic groups, communities, political prosecution.
This, he added, exposes the new government to pressing challenges of sustaining peace in the country amid a real risk of inter-communal clashes motivated by ethnic and political consideration. The ceremony also marked by the swearing of the 11 commissioners namely: Lamin J Sise as chairman, Ms Adelaide Sosseh as deputy chairperson, Ms Anna Ngalu Jones, Mr Mustapha Kah, Mr Abdourahman Sey, Ms Ma Nyima Bojang, Ms Amie Samba, Mr Lang Kinteh, Mr Jammeh Ceesay, Bishop James Yaw Allen Odico and Imam Ousainou Jallow.