By Edrissa Jallow
The National Assembly member for Serrekunda West, Hon Madi Ceesay told Gainako News that Transitional Justice stakeholders should conduct more mapping of victims of former President, Yahya Jammeh. Hon Ceesay spoke to our reporter during a two-day conference in Dakar to facilitate knowledge exchange on the successful trial of the former President of Chad, Hisène Habré. The conference was attended by Government and non Government stakeholders involved in the Gambia’s ongoing Transitional Justice process.
Hon Ceesay is a journalist by profession and a former President of the Gambia Press Union. He narrated how he was tortured together with his son who eventually lost his life after being arrested at the Solo Sandeng protest for Electoral Reforms.
Hon Ceesay who serves as the Chairperson of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Human Rights and Constitutional Matters believes that there are still unidentified victims of the regime of former President Yahya Jammeh.
The government of President Adama Barrow enacted the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) in 2017 to investigate the human rights violations which took place under the regime of former President Yahya Jammeh between 1994 to 2016. The Commission submitted its report to President Barrow in 2021 indicting former President Jammeh and his regime for numerous human rights violations.
The two-day conference which took place on 13th and 14th December 2022 in Dakar, Senegal was organized by the African Network against Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances (ANEKED).
This is the third and final instalment in a three-part series publication canvassing lessons learned from various stakeholders who attended the International Conference.
MoJ Counsel and SGBV Survivor Call for Patience to Prosecute Former President Jammeh
An article published by Human Rights Watch highlights that on Monday 30th May 2016, the former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré was convicted and sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of committing a series of crimes including torture, and sexual violence by the Extraordinary African Chambers in the Senegalese court system. The publication adds that on Thursday 27th April 2017, an “appeals court confirmed the verdict and ordered Habré to pay approximately €123 million euros in victim compensation.”
Our reporter questioned Hon Ceesay on the lessons learned from the International Conference. In response, Hon Ceesay explained that there is a “need to do more — mapping to get more victims”. Highlighting another learning point Hon Ceesay says he “also learned from [the Habré Trial] that there is a need for some legislative reforms because the current laws we have are not adequate”.
“The new constitution matters but then also apart from the constitution we need to come up with laws,” said Hon Ceesay.
Hon Ceesay who won his second term in April 2022 via a UDP ticket says that he is also a victim of former president Jammeh as well as his biological son, Ebrima Janko Ceesay. According to Hon Ceesay during the Jammeh regime, he was “arrested and tortured in the NIA several times”.
Hon Ceesay believes that his son Mr Janko Ceesay, born in 1983 was among the first civilians arrested and detained while covering as a journalist at the 14th April 2016 pro-electoral reform protest which was initiated by the late Ebrima Solo Sandeng.
Mr Janko Ceesay met his untimely death on Thursday 13th April 2017 while his family was celebrating the election victory of his father, Hon Madi Ceesay for the Serrekunda West constituency. An article published on Kibaro News details that Janko “Ceesay was arrested along with peaceful protesters. The young man too was not spared brutal physical torture by Jammeh’s heartless security forces. The cowards in uniform who pledged to protect Ebrima put all their energy on him until he lost two of his teeth”.
Gambian CSOs Should Learn from Chad CSO Challenges
ANEKED’s Gambia representative, Ms Sirra Ndow urged Gambian Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to work harder to learn from the challenges that hampered the participation of Chad CSOs in their Transitional Justice process.
“We [Gambia] need strong CSOs as the Chadians mentioned that when they started, they had quite a number of CSOs but because they were not strengthened and capacitated, they fell off along the way [leaving only] one or two CSO left in the fight and that makes it very difficult. So, we need to do things differently,” says Ms Ndow.
According to her some of the lessons learned from Chad CSOs touch on the mobilization of victims in ensuring they have the “legal documents that they are going to need such as ID Cards just so in case when reparation comes they have prepared ahead of time,” even thou “they have no idea if reparation is going to come or not”.
Government Institutions present at the two-day conference include the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice, The National Human Rights Commission and the National Assembly.