By Burama Jammeh
Victims of Yahya are Victims of Barrow and are Victims of The Gambia
JUSTICE FOR ONE!
JUSTICE FOR ALL!
One of the enduring pain of Yahya’s reign is total and inhuman disregard to LIFE and other RIGHTS of The Sovereign people of The Gambia:
THE KILLED – 10s, 100s or even 1000s of our citizens were killed. Since there are no official accounting of these people no one knows the exact number. What is known to us are famous names and/or those involved or caught up in some widely reported events such as April 10/11 Student demonstration.
THE MYSTEROUSLY DISAPPEARED – there are handful of people who are reported missing and their whereabouts are up to this day a mystery to their loves and Gambians in general. One such person is Foday Makalo, one-time popular Opposition Member of Parliament for Upper Badibou during the so-called First Republic. One would assume he would by now show up somewhere now that Yahya administration has long gone. Where is he and the other missing individuals such as Ebirma Manneh?
The DEAD DENIED HOME BURIAL – there were others who passed away in foreign lands and were denied home burial as may be their wish and/or those of their families
Died in Incarceration or immediately upon Release – There are several people who were incarcerated for dubious reasons. They died during such incarceration and/or not long upon release. We don’t know if such death were in any way related to events during their incarceration or simply natural causes.
ILLEGALLY SEIZURES/TRANSFERS OF OWNERSHIP OF REALS ESTATE PROPERTRIES – We know number of citizens and sometimes whole communities lost their real estate properties to Yahya Jammeh and/or his aid. Whether such properties were legally/legitimately acquired by the earlier owner or not the redress is not another legitimate seizure. Equally ignoring the issues as is because you are not directly affected and/or because is complex is a hallmark in-just society with incompetent leaders.
THE EXILED – 1000s or 10s of 1000s were forced into exile away from their families and sources of livelihoods
The other groups of victims are those related to the above – PARENTS, RELATONS, FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS, etc. In essence the pains of these atrocities are felt far and wide all over our land.
Throughout our Struggle we demanded justice for these people and ourselves. We defeated Yahya December 01, 2016. On January 19, 2017 we assumed the powers of governing The Gambia. But there are NO JUSTICE AND NO JUSTICE IN THE WORKS. WHATS IN THE WORKS IS ASKING US TO FORGET THE PAST AND MOVE-ON
THEY PROMISED TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION: This is the probably the 1st worst decision of this government. The concept is completely flawed and their rational was…..oh, that’s what South Africa did. Sadly, they don’t seem to know the differences between the political dynamics between APARTHEID and crimes of Dictatorship perpetrated by Yahya.
- The apartheid was settled by a multi-national (international) political agreement
- The apartheid was complex racial supremacy conflicts
- The apartheid lasted 1947/8-1991 – statutes of limitation and recovery issues will hamper the regular legal process. More importantly trying those cases will mean using international laws because laws of South Africa at the time allowed state sanctioned atrocities. The priority of that international community at the time was to strike a compromise rather than strike application of laws.
- Alleged crimes during the period under review are committed by individuals supposedly under the advice of their boss(es) and/or simply to please the boss. Statutes of limitation are no issue here and for most cases there are eye witnesses and/or forensic recoverable physical evidences.
- Even in South Africa some crimes were tried in normal courts such as Stompie’s murder case involving Late Winnie Mandela. In Gambia we have cases with physical evidence such as photographs, eye witness accounts, forensic material, etc. such as Koro Ceesay, The Student Massacre, Deyda Hydara, prisoners such as Daba Marenah. Noticed that Mr. Marenah was aiding the dictatorship yet he has right to justice – unless we can guarantee justice for all, justice for any of us are neither guaranteed.
March 2017, Minister Tambedou, told us they will put up Gambia Truth and Reconciliation Act. This will probably be the worst Act against justice – NEW LAW(S) AND/OR COURT(S) FOR OLD CRIMES. RETROACTIVATION IS INJUSTICE IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE ADMINISTRATION. It is fundamentally against justice disposition to retroactively dispense justice. We don’t write laws today for yesterday’s allege crime – they ought to be tried under existing laws of that time.
We were also told, Dr. Barrow appointed Dr. Baba Galleh Jallow as the secretary of The Commission. Per records he studies history. What we are talking here is law, homicides and complex investigations. Any reasonable person would think someone with legal background is suited for that task such as a retired judge. This is what is called “square pegs in round holes”. Surely this is Dr. Adam Barrow’s incompetence but Dr. Jallow should also decline the appointment on the grounds that’s not his expertise.
Simply the whole venture is RUSE and not about JUSTICE…… Dr. Barrow and his clique are more interesting in quietly hanging on to power than better Gambia.
JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS WAS ONE SPECIFIC GOAL OF OUR STRUGLLE. Thus, The New Government could simply direct the Prosecutors at the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s Office to investigate each case and brought to trial. They could also easy establish some Independent Authority by an Act of National Assembly and/or under some already existing law to investigate and brought to trial each of these cases. Either approach could afford the victims/Gambia the long-awaited justice.
They choose not to for whatever reason. Instead they have and/or are cooking up some approach that is not to bring justice but STATE DETERMINED IMPOSITION TO BE ACCEPTED BY THE PARTIES.
POLITICAL/GOVERNANCE PROBLEMS OF THE GAMBIA – BEYOND JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS: Gambia’s political and socio-economics are multi-faceted. A lasting fix will require holistic re-engineering of the whole state apparatus. Tinkering around the edges and/or moving/shifting personnel as done by Dr. Barrow is no solution. Ironically, Dr. Barrow has started calling up some Yahya AJJ Jammeh amazing. Amazing!
THE SOLUTIONS ARE AS FOLLOWING
- Rewrite The Constitution: This is absolutely necessary because we have to Separate Governing Powers, we have to Limit Executive Powers, We need Term Limits, we need Decentralization of Governing, we need our Rights Redefined/Degrees of Absoluteness Established, Clean up Noises – remove bunch of laws of The Gambia/Acts of The national Assembly from the Constitution, knock out Military Decrees, Remove/Replace Military Election Administration Decree, etc.
- Restructure, Reorganize and Right-Size Governments: A New Constitution shall lay out the parameters of each government. Each government will be by, for and of the people. This will cut costs and open up space for our civil liberties/freedoms. It will also serve as gateway to the beginning of prosperity in The Gambia.
- Decentralize Governance: Establish a democratic government at each Region, District and Villages/Towns/Cities. Each has defined functional structure, roles/responsibilities, resource allocation and jurisdiction. Equally the overseeing responsibilities are apportioned both upside down and vice visa. Public Agents of these governments are directly elected by the people they serve (and not appointed by Banjul). They will serve within a Term Limit as maybe be prescribed in the New constitution. This is what is TRULY A LOCAL GOVERNMENT. What obtains today (and since independence) are simply a political apparatus for Banjul hegemony (Jawara, Yahya & now Barrow).
- Decentralize Election Administration: Each Region should have their Own Independent Electoral commission. The Regional, District Election Commissioners and their Deputies should be directly elected by people they serve and not appointed by Regional Governor (or whatever name we may prefer) and will not serve under his/her direct dictate but according to the law(s). This Election Administration reform will start with regularizing National Citizen Register broken down into Regions, Districts, Villages, etc. This will afford us establish citizenship and eligibility not only for purposes of elections but many other decision-making purposes. Each Region will then register her citizens coded per Region, District and village/city/town. Such codification could be as simple but good enough as how your phone number is codified. Obviously, those wishing to transfer their votes can do so by turning in the present registration for a new one at the new location’s service centers and through a Central Coordinating Body the old registration will be automatically purged. This will operate like a Central Bank Coordinate or served as a Clearing center for commercial banks. The registers will be accessible to the public so that interested citizens, civil society organizations, political interest groups and verify the voter register for accuracies. Again, Elected Election Commissioners will have a Term Limit.
- Other Vital Roles of Governing such as Community Policing/Law & Order, Courts, Taxation, Provision of Certain Social Services etc.: These are all areas that need both restructuring and reorganization. Reorganization of these roles will certainly reduce the size of Banjul Government to exactly what ought to be her rightful role/size while local governments may differ on roles based on need. Each government will derive authority from the people they represent/serve. They will also be trained and equip adequately enough to dispense their duties correctly while preserve our rights/civil liberties/freedoms and letting an enabling environment for prosperity.
- Justice for Victims of Human Right Abuses and by extension National Security Preparedness: This is a very personal matter for some people. I personally know people who lose their love ones’. They can only tell the rest of us how it feels. Our hearts goes out to them.
Justice for one is justice for all! Defending justice of one is defending justice of all. Why’re you not upholding this basic principle whether you support/like the new government or not?
The abuses of citizens’ rights, civil liberties and freedoms guaranteed under our constitution was meted out by Security Agents presumably under the orders of their superiors. While over the last 2 decades Gambia reported to spent over 25% of her National Revenue on National Security and Community Policing. One can only wonder why so much spent and these atrocities weren’t prevented nor a single alleged political related homicide and/or mysterious disappearance case solved.
The best approach for The New Government to resolve these cases would have been to establish ‘A Investigative Body with Prosecutorial Powers’ to investigate each case and use the existing courts to a legal conclusion. This body could either be establish on some existing law and/or by an act of the National Assembly; however, they will look at these cases bases on existing laws. This could prevent undue political political/social interference and allow the new government focus of mainstream reform and other governing matters.
Instead The New Government fixated on some Truth and Reconciliation on justifications (South Africa did it) that has no similarity with Gambia’s.
Justice maybe delayed but not denied. And in a functioning institutional democratic Gambia those who betrayed the trust of public office should also face justice for doing so. TELL Dr. Barrow THE KILLED & DISAPPEARED (ALL VICTIMS) ARE CONSTITUTIONALLY GUARANTEED EQUAL JUSTICE AND NOT SELECTIVE RECONCILIATION. That would simply mean they don’t deserve EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW.
These reforms are not just some fanciful importation of some western ways. Democracy simply happened to be the best form of governing so far devised by mankind. It allows all of us to have equal say in our common affairs, it amplified systems that allowed fair and just dispensation of our common affairs and it enables environment where each can freely labor to maximize the outputs of their talents. These were why our forebearers choose an Independent Democratic republic over other forms of government.
Instead of democratization and justice for victims of our struggle, Dr. Barrow is singing an empty slogan of ‘Oee Gambia one People One Nation’ and A Delusional Fantasy Economic Agenda. There is no issue of over our territorial integrity or unity as people of The Gambia unless a government or political interest make it a problem. The slogan is pointless! There is no money for whatever Dr. Barrow claimed. Sadly, Dr. Barrow doesn’t know that fact. If he Knows and doing what he’s doing – then he’s no better than Yahya. Over 15% of our National revenue is spent of Dr. Barrow and his livelihood (State House). More troubling is that Dr. Barrow’s government costs poor Gambian tax payers 190% of National Revenue. This means our tax revenue is 90% less the costs of our government. Thus, we have to fetch that from elsewhere – the answers are BEGGING (GRANTS) AND DEBT (LOANS). This is impoverishing the nation. Just like his predecessors (in fact worst by comparing the numbers), Dr. Barrow Administration seize money from the poor from karting to Koina in the name of taxation only to pay for their lifestyle. SAD BUT TRUE!
GRANTS AND DEBT WILL NEITHER UPHOLD OUR PRIDE AS AN INDEPENDENT NATION NOR WILL THEY LEAD US TO PROSPERITY.
My hope is majority compatriots think, research for themselves rather than being told and/or simply following the noisy crowd.
God Bless Gambia
To the Gambia Ever True