By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
The Minister of Justice, Hon Dawda A Jallow has informed delegates at the Gambia Bar Association’s event today, 28th November 2023 that he anticipates that the Special Prosecutor will commence work by mid-2024.
In addition to this Minister Jallow added that he anticipates that the Special Prosecutor’s Office Bill will be tabled in Parliament in January 2024 during an extra-ordinary session. The Special Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) is essential to commence the prosecution of perpetrators who bear the most responsibility for human rights violations that occurred during the regime of former President Yahya A J J Jammeh from 1994 to 2016.
Already, former Junta member Yankuba Touray has been sentenced to death by hanging for his involvement in the death of former Minister for Finance Hon Ousman Koro Ceesay. Yankuba Touray’s conviction was fast-tracked because he refused to cooperate with the Commission. His conviction was completed in July 2021 but his hanging will not be initiated given the Government’s moratorium on the death penalty.
Meanwhile, on the international stage, former Jungler Driver Bai Lowe is undergoing prosecution in Germany Celle and his conviction is expected to be completed on 30th November 2023. The trial of another two TRRC perpetrators is anticipated to commence in 2024. This includes the former Minister for Interior Ousman Sonko in Switzerland and former Jungler Micheal Correa in the United States.
On the other hand, in The Gambia, prosecution is expected to commence after the setting up of the SPO and the passing of the Special Accountability Mechanism Bill which are now expected to be tabled in Parliament in early 2024.
The Government issued a TRRC Implementation Plan which contains timelines and budgetary costs to complete the TRRC’s recommendations. According to the Gambia Government’s TRRC Implementation Plan, the whole process of setting up an SPO Bill should have started with consultations with the National Assembly in the 1st Quarter of 2023. Below is the first bullet point from the Implementation Plan.
- 1.1.4. High-level consultations with the National Assembly to strategise on the prioritisation of urgent Bills crucial to the implementation of the Government Whitepaper. (39)
The Government’s Implementation Plan highlights that the process of passing the SPO Bill should continue with another four action points that should have concluded by the third quarter of 2023. Below are the four action points.
- 22.1.1 Enact legislation to create the office of Special Prosecutor. This activity will cost $30,000 and is anticipated to be funded by Government and Partners.
- 22.1.2 Develop an inclusive selection process for the Special Prosecutor
- 22.1.3 Hire an international justice and accountability adviser. This activity will cost $300,000 and is anticipated to be funded by Government and Partners.
- 22.1.4 Acquire temporal office premises for the Special Prosecutor. This activity will cost $100,000 and is anticipated to be funded by Government and Partners.
After these actions are completed one more action from the government would have sealed the deal of hiring the Special Prosecutor. This action was scheduled to have been concluded by the fourth quarter. Below is the bullet point.
- 22.1.5 Hire a Special Prosecutor and set up the office. This activity will cost $5,000,000 and is anticipated to be funded by Government and Partners.
However, according to the Minister of Justice, this action is now anticipated to take place by the end of the second quarter of 2024. Before this, the SPO Bill and the Special Accountability Mechanism Bill are anticipated to be tabled in Parliament in the first quarter of 2024.