By MAMA A. TOURAY
Vice President of The Gambia, Alieu Badara Joof has said that the government will not relent in its efforts to ensure justice for the victims of human rights violation during former President Yahya Jammeh’s 22 years of dictatorship.
Joof was delivering a statement at opening of the 73rd ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara international conference center in Bijilo on behalf of President Adama Barrow.
He added that the way has already been paved with the successful completion of the NIA nine trial involving those liable for the brutal killing of Solo Sandeng.
He also cited the trail of former junta member, Yankuba Touray for the death of the former Gambian finance minister, Ousman Koro Ceesay.
He revealed that they are in the process of putting in the necessary mechanisms to ensure justice for the victims and that they shall established the necessary legal frameworks to try international crimes such as torture, enforced disappearances and crimes against humanity to bring crimes that took place on Gambian soil.
The Vice President said the Gambia government established the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) through an Act of National Assembly to investigate and create an impartial record of human rights abuses committed from 1994 to early 2017.
He said the process is meant to ensure justice, accountability, promote healing and reconciliation to all persons affected during this period.
Joof said the TRRC has delivered on its mandate and provided report to the government since November 25, 2021 and the entire report was made public.
He recalled that on May 25, 2022 the government released its White Paper on the report of the TRRC, which represents the government’s position on the recommendations of the TRRC.
“We are confident that as a government we now have a clear road map towards reconciliation, justice reparation and ensuring non recurrence, the implementation of the white paper will see the introduction of broad based reforms which the government intends to carry out,” he said.
He noted that enforce disappearances, sexual and gender based violence were prevalent themes during the TRRC.
He explained that reparations for the victims will continue to receive the attention of the government, which will include huge finance that maybe beyond the reach of the government.
Alieu Badara Joof used the opportunity to invite government’s partners and the international community to render assistance and support in this regard.
He also disclos3d that a Reparation Bill will be considered at the level of the National assembly and it will constitute an urgent agency that will be victim led to carry out granting reparations to victims.
Joof said the government had earlier made an allocation of D50 million to the TRRC to carry out reparations, noting that an additional over D100 million was placed in this year’s budgets with the expectations of commencing reparations through the proposed Reparations Act for victims.
“The TRRC process has revealed that we are a nation very much in need of healing and reconciliation. Government will continue to invest heavily to ensure the reconciliation of all Gambians, victims, perpetrators and citizens of our country,” said the Vice President.
He said there is in motion the establishment of a national peace council, acknowledging that accountability and justice must be pursued.
For Joof, the TRRC has outlined those it deemed most responsible for the atrocities committed under the previous regime.
“We are committed to ensure a better and brighter future for all Gambians to live side by side in peace and security and Never Again shall we permit abuses under the former regime to reoccur on Gambian territory” he said.