By Omar Bah
Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, professor of law at the University of Ghana, has urged The Gambia Government to provide TRRC commissioners with tight security ahead of the commission’s proceedings.
She said this is because in many countries where TRRC took place, after the conclusion of proceedings, the commissioners are often forced to go into exile because of threats to their lives.
“So this is why I want to urge the government to urgently provide the TRRC commissioners with security. I have been in their situation before and I know it is extremely dangerous,” said Mensa-Bonsu at a recent TRRC engagement in Banjul.
Professor Mensa-Bonsu said the Gambian TRRC “is even more critical” given the fact that people are associating the commissioners with the problem itself, adding that there is a possibility they may be used as scapegoats at the end.
“So yes it can be pretty dangerous. I myself came under a lot of threats so I know how uneasy it can feel. This is a reality that cannot be sidestepped and I remember asking Dr [Baba Galleh] Jallow when I was here in March whether they are considering these threats, but he told me no matter what happened he was never going to go in exile again,” she added.
She said the TRRC should also embrace the victims to let them understand that forgiveness is about oneself. “If they can deal with the pain and forgive and rise above it, they will be restored. If they cannot deal with it, they will forever be under the shadow of that event and it will define them.”
The Ghanaian expert also took time to warn the TRRC to be mindful of the people they select as statement takers, adding that they should be properly checked to ensure that they are not directly or indirectly involved in the atrocities committed.
Professor Mensa-Bonsu served in a number of high-level national and international assignments including the Ghana National Commission on Children, National Reconciliation Commission and the Ghana Police Council.