It has been slow in coming, but the nomination and appointment of commissioners for the TRRC is currently under way. The process for the nomination of regional commissioners across the country started on Wednesday 20th June with advance community radio sensitization programmes conducted by each governor assisted by two chiefs from their regions. A one-hour programme per day in two to three community radio stations in each region were conducted in local languages on Wednesday 20th June, Thursday 21st June and Friday, 22nd June. During these programmes, the governors and chiefs explained to their communities the context, purpose, and expected nature and outcomes of the nomination process at the district and regional levels. These radio sensitization programmes highlighted the importance of local communities understanding the guidelines and criteria for the selection of regional commissioners and the overall neutral and coordinating role of the governors in the process.
These community radio engagements were followed on Monday 25th June by meetings at governors’ places where the seven members of the Regional Selection Panels (RSPs) were selected. Representatives from all districts in every region converged at the regional headquarters to participate in the selection of members of the RSPs. The seven-member RSPs included representatives from youth groups, women’s groups, civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations working in the field of human rights, religious groups, and community leaders resident and working within the regions. All members of the RSPs were residents of the region with high moral character and integrity, no criminal record or involvement in past human rights violations, no known involvement in a political party, and of Gambian nationality. Follow-up meetings between each governor and their RSPs were held on Wednesday, 27th June. At these meetings the governors discussed with the RSPs their terms of reference and the guidelines for the selection of regional commissioners.
The actual district level consultation and nomination process by the RSPs in each region ran from 28th June – 9th July. During this period, each RSP travelled to and held meetings with inhabitants of every district in their region to secure two nominations from each district, one male and one female. Once they had nominations from all districts, the RSPs met to determine the three finalists from among their pool of nominees for onward submission to the governors. According to the guidelines for the selection and appointment of commissioners, the conditions for nomination and appointment as a commissioner on the TRRC include high moral character and integrity; no criminal record or involvement in past human rights violations; no active involvement in a political party; residency, in the case of regional commissioners; and Gambian nationality. We were in constant touch with the governors from the beginning to the conclusion of the regional nomination process. The feedback we got indicated that people across the country were very enthusiastic about the nomination process. No incidents of serious disagreement were reported.
On Monday, July 16 the governors will submit their lists of three final candidates from each region to the Ministry of Justice. The names will be accompanied by reports identifying members of the RSPs and certifying that the nomination process complied with TRRC procedures. The list of three nominees from each region shall contain their full name and current address, age, gender, ethnicity, religion, educational background, occupation, employment history, and short notes of no more than 500 words (type-written) stating the reasons for the person’s suitability for appointment as commissioner to the TRRC. Meanwhile, the selection of commissioners for the Greater Banjul Area from nominations received back in February 2018 is also ongoing.
After receipt of all nominations from all regions, the Ministry of Justice will select the 11 commissioners for the TRRC. These names will be submitted for vetting by the Technical Committee on Transitional Justice, which includes members of government agencies, civil society organizations, diplomatic missions, and international organizations and after that, they will be published in the media and objections invited from the general public. Guidelines on how to submit objections will be provided. All serious objections backed by compelling evidence will be seriously considered with a view to revisiting a person’s suitability to serve as a commissioner for the TRRC. Once a total of 11 names clear both the Technical Committee and general public vetting processes, the final list will be submitted to the president for appointment as TRRC commissioners. Before appointing them, the president is required by the TRRC Act to consult stakeholders including several civil society organizations. It is hoped that this process will be completed sometime in August.
Meanwhile, some essential staff for the TRRC secretariat are being recruited. Our call for applications generated a substantial number of applications for all positions which we are currently going through. Due to the large number of applications received, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for interviews. We have also been reliably informed by the Ministry of Justice that some office space has been identified for the TRRC and that funds to enable the start-up operations of the commission have been secured. In an upcoming update, we will highlight the progress of our outreach activities and Never Again campaign.
God bless The Gambia. #NeverAgain!