By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
The leaders of the United Democratic Party (UDP) and the Citizens’ Alliance (CA) have pledged to implement the Recommendations of the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) if voted into office on December 4th 2021. Both party leadership visited the Victims Center in late June 2021 to show solidarity with the victims. In an exclusive interview with our reporter [facilitated by Spokesperson Nenneh Freda Gomez], CA Flagbearer Dr Ismaila Ceesay says his party will implement the TRRC Report “fully and effectively”.
Speaking to Gainako Online News at the launch of the UDP Party Manifesto, Party Leader, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe highlighted that, “I cannot be bothered If anybody denies me vote” but “the UDP government will certainly enforce the [TRRC Recommendations] to the letter”.
After requesting an interview with UDP Leader Ousainou Darboe in August 2021, our reporter’s request was rejected after the Spokesperson Mr Almami Fanding Taal demanded that he responds to our questions instead of Lawyer Darboe. Nonetheless, Gainako seized the opportunity to question the UDP Leader on their party’s plans to implement the TRRC Report considering the APRC’s calls for the Report to be binned.
In response to the question, the former Vice President pledged that a “UDP government will be the strongest partner with any institution that make such recommendation. We will make sure that any recommendation coming out of the TRRC, if we are in government, and I think we will be in government, we will implement them, otherwise, no one will take decisions of government seriously in setting up commissions of enquiry because we set these commissions for a purpose. And when the recommendations come out, I believe that government will be if not legally, but morally obliged to implement them.”
Elaborating on the efforts which a UDP Government will make to see the report implemented, Lawyer Darboe explained that “for your question, TRRC recommendations, the UDP government will certainly enforce them to the later. If the recommendations come out, we will definitely enforce them and if we have legal obstacles in enforcing them, we will ask experts in other places- legal experts to help us circumvent those legal obstacles”.
In an exclusive interview conducted after the first postponement of the TRRC Report’s submission to President Barrow, CA Leader, Dr Ceesay points to the Coalition between former President Jammeh’s party, the Association for Patriotic Reorientation and Constriction (APRC) and President Barrow’s newly formed National People’s Party (NPP) as a stumbling block. In an interview conducted in late August, one week before the announcement of the NPP-APRC Alliance Dr Ceesay hinted that “reported coalition talks between the President’s party and APRC among other signs of hesitance, we do not expect the Government to come up with a white paper before the December 2021 elections let alone commence implementation.”
Highlighting procedures, he says should be completed before implementation of the report, Dr Ceesay referenced the TRRC Act which gives the Government “up to six months after submission of the report and recommendations to issue a white paper with a proposed plan for implementing the Commission’s recommendations. This means that it could be up to March 31st 2022.”
The CA Leader was asked if the TRRC Recommendations should commence implementation before or after the December 4th 2021 Elections. According to Dr Ceesay, “victims have been waiting for justice for a long time, some for over two decades. The Government can and should do everything possible to ensure implementation starts as soon as possible as justice delayed is justice denied.”
One of the main challenges of the TRRC is the Commission paying reparations to victims. The current Government paid D50 million to the TRRC and promised another D50 million payment to the Commission for payment of reparations to the victims. However, the second payment of D50 million has not been forthcoming from the current Government of President Adama Barrow.
Our reporter questioned Dr Ismaila Ceesay to react to the government’s unfulfilled promise to pay a second D50 million to the Commission. In response, Dr Ceesay referenced the TRRC Reparation Chair, Madam Adelaide Sosseh concerns that “the Government not fulfilling its promise to pay the additional D50 million made reparations pay out more difficult with most victims being paid only 19% of their total award now with a promissory note for the remaining 81% to be paid by Government at a later date which no one knows when that will be. If the Government was serious about the victims, it could have made this payment a long time ago or at the very least, included the [second] D50 million in the last supplementary budget that was taken to parliament in July 2021”.
When asked what CA will do differently to prioritise reconciliation and reparations if voted into office, Dr Ceesay claims that their party will pay the balance of reparations left for victims. Dr Ceesay pledged that “a CA government will, from day one, ensure that the recommendations of the Commission on reconciliation and reparations are implemented fully and effectively, starting with ensuring that compensation balance of D168.8 million owed to victims is honoured in the shortest possible time”.
This publication is supported by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ).