By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
A Counsel from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed that the suspensions of all those adversely mentioned in the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) and the Government White Paper have been effected. Speaking at a Security Sector Reform Stakeholder Interface organised by the Solo Sandeng Foundation on Saturday 6th August 2022, Counsel Kimbeng Tah who spearheads the Governments efforts on the TRRC told victims and Parliamentarians present that “as recently as this month we’ve also carried out suspensions from public service of all those who were adversely mentioned by the TRRC Report and confirmed in the White Paper”.
Counsel Tah went further to say that he “can confirm that [the MoJ has] received responses from all those agencies that the suspensions have been carried out while we wait to concretise the removal from service following due process”.
Present at the dialogue which took place at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Headquarters in Kotu were three National Assembly members in Hon Yahya Menteng Sanyang of Latrikunda Sabiji, Hon Muhammed Kanteh of Busumbala and Hon Abdoulie Njai of Banjul Central. Also in attendance were the Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of the NHRC as well as a number of victims who had protested alongside Solo Sandeng and supporters.
NAM Question Security Chief Commitment to SSR
Although the MoJ, the NHRC and Parliamentarians had honoured the invitation the dialogue was incomplete as the National Security Advisor, the Inspector General of Police and the Ministry of Interior all failed to attend or even send representatives to the dialogue. The meeting agenda noted that the Office of the IGP was to provide an update on its “preparedness to carry out reforms” and to brief stakeholders on the implementation of the TRRC Recommendations.
Hon Yahya Menteng Sanyang was unwavering in his condemnation of Security Officials for failing to attend the “friendly dialogue”. Speaking to the MoJ representative while on the podium, Hon Sanyang said “I would advise next time there is this kind of friendly conversation we have to prevail on the IGP, the Defense, the Security Sector to be here because it’s friendly. Nobody is taking anybody to court here this is a friendly conversation. When the IGP, the Ministers of Defense and Interior [are] present [it] will boost the morale of these victims”.
Hon Sanyang went further to add that “when we have this kind of conversation let’s make sure all the stakeholders are here. We also make a frank conversation. But for the fact that they are absent now am trying to question their commitment to the Security Sector Reform. There is Security Sector Reform in the offing but you as a stakeholder, you are invited to a very important function like this, you abstain it means you’re not committed to it”.
“Reform is commitment it’s not just putting everything to paper. We go to conferences, we travel international and make a case. No, we have to show commitment to it,” enthused Hon Sanyang.
NHRC Chair Solo’s Legacy Lives Forever
NHRC Chairperson Daniel Emmanuel Joof explained that “since 2017, The Gambia’s government has been implementing extensive security sector reform (SSR) processes as part of national reconstruction efforts as the country tries to recover from the consequences of Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year rule”.
“The ongoing SSR is targeting at reforming the country’s eight security institutions. Namely the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), National Intelligence Agency, Gambia Police Force (GPF), Drug Law Enforcement Agency Gambia (DLEAG), Gambia Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS), Gambia Prison Service (GPS), Gambia Revenue Authority (Customs and Excise) and Gambia Immigration Department”.
Chairperson Joof reiterated his hope “that the recent judgement and conviction of the NIA 9 Case by the High Court of The Gambia will finally bring closure for the family, relatives, and friends of the late Solo Sandeng. His legacy in the history of the country lives forever”.
Solo Sandeng was a Gambian Politician from the United Democratic Party (UDP) who lead protests for Electoral Reforms against the dictatorship of former President Yahya Jammeh. He was eventually killed after a torture session at the National Intelligence Agency now known as the State Intelligence Agency.
Speaking on the reforms affecting the SIS Counsel Tah explained that “the investigative powers of the NIA/ SIS has been suspended. So, the SIS can no longer carry out criminal investigations and arrests like they used to do before”.
Son of Solo Sandeng, Muhammed Sandeng told our reporter that almost 50 plus people attended the event “mainly from victims and also the institutions responsible”. The advocate believes that “the discussions were really very productive as it was intended to continue the discussions that had started by the Solo Sandeng Foundation. So, it is a success in the sense that it goes on to compliment that effort and continue the conversations”.
“We were lucky to hear quite detailed deliberations from the representatives of the MoJ Lawyer Tah who outlined the process of the SSR and explained some of the reasons for the delay which also included the Covid 19 and he also went on to explain the progress that has been made so far,” said Muhammed Sandeng.
A list of all those adversely mentioned in the TRRC Report was issued by the Ministry of Justice to Gainako Online News in July 2022.