Is public opinion the way to achieve justice for victims in The Gambia?

Is public opinion the way to achieve justice for victims in The Gambia?

It is unfortunate that both the media and the public are to blame for the public prosecution that is taking place in the Gambia. What we fail to understand is that by engaging in such act we are in fact prejudicing any future judicial process we want to have in order to bring perpetrators to justice.

Besides, I would even go as far as saying that such acts can prevent us from achieving the well deserve justice we all have been longing for the past 22 years.

People can only be arrested for alleged crimes provided someone lodge a complaint to the relevant authority i.e the police in this case and to my knowledge, the process is still ongoing, and then with enough evidence that are admissible in a court of law, such people can be charged for the commission of any alleged crimes.

Therefore, until all preliminary processes of fact-finding, gathering of all evidences, interviewing of victims, suspects and charges brought forward against perpetrators or anyone that is rumoured at the moment to be accomplished in torture, raped, and forced imprisonment of both civilian and political opponents and violation of international and human rights laws, should all be presumed innocent until otherwise proven guilty by a court of law and not be prosecuted in the court of public opinion.

Personally, I am skeptical for the local police forces to handle the fact-finding and gathering of evidence, even though I know that it’s the sole job of policing anywhere in the civilized world.

My fear is that evidence might be tampered with. I urge the Coalition Government to act on their promise to set up of the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

With a competent Commission handling such affairs would breathe in trust and confidence in the whole process. That will encourage lots of people to come forward with their stories of the alleged heinous crimes committed during the past 22 years of dictator Jammeh’s tyrannical rule of the country The Gambia.

Moreover, any delay in setting up the commission would further deepen the division between the people who want justice for their loved ones and those who are perceived or rumored to be allegedly responsible for the crimes highlighted above.

Furthermore, I would reiterate what I said in my article titled “Road Map for Justice and Reconciliation in The Gambia after 22 years”, without the Coalition Government properly investigating all alleged crimes and bring justice for the victims of dictator Jammeh’s 22 years tyrannical rule we won’t be able to restore our beloved Gambia the way it used to be before Jammeh took over power in a bloodless coup in 1994.

The pursuit of justice for the victims of the genocide in Rwanda led to the formation of the “Commission of Inquiry and Tribunal” by the Rwandan Government in the aftermath of the country’s 1994 Genocide.

This domestic Commission was running alongside the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and the commission was remarkable in their effort in bringing perpetrators to justice and as a result was able to achieve true reconciliation within Rwanda and among the various tribes and factions.

After 21 years I was privileged to have seen the transformation of the country were Hutus and Tutsis living side by side, sharing local facilities together and even beginning to intermarry for myself.

I know Gambia has not been vastly divided like it was then in Rwanda but there is a pocket of division within the country and among ourselves which was caused by the APRC and its leader, former dictator Yahya Jammeh, who went into exiled in Equatorial Guinea and left our beloved Gambia in a mess.

Lamin Gagigo is a UK based Gambian Attorney with an LLB (Hons) Law with Criminology and LLM Public International Law

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