By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
The Gambia Government accepted most of the recommendations of the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) back in December 2021 and finally published its TRRC Implementation Plan which includes details of activities, timelines and a budget to match. The TRRC is a defunct Commission which was established by the Government of President Adama Barrow in 2017 to investigate the human rights violations which occurred during the regime of former President Yahya A J J Jammeh from 1994 to January 2017.
Since the Government accepted most of the Commission’s findings and issued an Implementation Plan there have been a number of activities which have been completed by the Government, however, there are many more activities which have not been completed. For example, one of the completed activities is to “draft and table a Bill to set up an independent body to administer reparations for victims”. This was scheduled to be completed in the second quarter of 2023 to the tune of $15,000 US. However, the Victims Reparations Bill was eventually passed in October 2023 by the National Assembly after a certificate of urgency signed by the President.
Another activity which was completed by the government was to “engage the National Assembly to fastrack the consideration of the Prevention of Torture Bill”. This was scheduled to be completed by the second quarter of 2023 but was actually passed by Parliament a month ahead of schedule in the first quarter of 2023. Another positive step in the right direction is the passing of the Mutual Legal Assistance Bill which was passed by Parliament together with the Prevention of Torture Bill. Although this is not listed in the Implementation Plan, it will certainly have a positive impact on the execution of some of the activities in the TRRC Implementation Plan that relate to this Bill.
Having identified some of the government’s progress, it’s now time to look at some of the activities which the government has failed to implement as stipulated in the Implementation Plan.
Many activities relate to the Special Prosecutor, whose office has not been established yet. In fact, the Ministry of Justice validated the Special Prosecutor’s Office Bill and the Special Accountability Mechanism Bill on 18th October 2023 which will eventually be tabled for Parliamentary approval.
Three scheduled activities which are held back by this include the Government to; “forward the Recommendation for Amnesty for Baboucarr Bah to Special Prosecutor for review in line with Prosecution Strategy”, “refer the members of the Presidential convoys including former President Jammeh to the Special Prosecutor for road traffic offences committed resulting in deaths” and to “enact legislation to create the office of Special Prosecutor”. The last activity was to be completed in the third quarter of 2023 at a cost of $30,000 US while the first two activities were scheduled to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2023.
In total seven activities are linked with the Special Prosecutor which are scheduled to have been completed this year at a cost of $5.13 million US. It’s clear that until the Bill is passed and the Special Prosecutors Office is established these activities will not be completed. In fact, there are more activities relating to the Special Prosecutor which should be completed between 2023 to 2027 that have not been listed in this publication. At this rate, delays are certainly expected in this set of activities.
November 11, 1994 Coup
Two activities which the government planned to be completed in the second quarter of 2023 are to;
· “Implement measures to ensure that individual perpetrators who benefit from plea deals [are] banned from holding public office”, and
· “Implement measures to ban Cpl. Alhagie Kanyi, Pte. Baboucarr Njie (“De Chebb” or “Njie Ponkal”), Pte. John Charles B. Mendy (JCB Mendy), Pte. Baboucarr Ahmad Njie (B.A. Njie), Pte. Albert Gomez, Pte. Lamarana Barry xii. Pte. Ensa Mendy, Pte. Jali Musa Suso, Pte. Lamin Marong, Pte. Mustapha Touray (“Churro”), Pte. Lamin Colley, Pte. Lamin (Pa) Senghore (Assassin), Pte. Baboucarr Mboob from holding public office for ten years”.
These activities may still be implemented this year, given that Parliament has approved the Ban from Public Office (TRRC) Bill on 2nd November 2023 which should be assented to by the President within a month. If these individuals are included in the Ban List Schedule, which forms part of the Bill, they can be legally banned, which should complete this activity.
There are many other activities within this theme, some of which the government has not confirmed their completion but could certainly have been completed with little effort. Some of these activities include “notify[ing] Pte. Lamin Fatty of the Government’s decision accepting the Commission’s recommendation of no action against him”, “review GAF Training Curricula with a view to including topics on Human Rights, Constitutional Law and Rule of Law” and “develop training manuals on Civil-Military relations with a view to changing mind-sets on serving members of the Armed Forces for respect of established rules”. All three of these activities are scheduled to be completed by the third quarter of 2023 at the cost of $55,000 USD.
Another activity which could have easily been completed but hasn’t is for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs to “mainstream victim- centric strategies as part of the new National Development Plan”. Given that the new National Development Plan has not been launched by the government this activity may still be considered incomplete.
The next article in this series of publications will focus on Attacks on Political Opponents and the Media, Reparations and Memorialisation.