Gambia’s anticipated truth and reconciliation commission will start hearing from victims and their alleged abusers in September as spats between affected families and relatives of those being prosecuted for human rights abuses increase.
Former President Yahya Jammeh’s regime frequently committed serious human rights violations including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, and torture against those who voiced opposition to the government.
“We will need to adapt the lessons learnt from other TRCs to our particular context in The Gambia,” Attorney General, Aboubacarr Baa Tambadou said.
Consultations are currently taking place to identify appropriate persons of high moral character and integrity from a cross section of the tiny nation’s social, cultural and religious communities for appointment as commissioners to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
At least 24 former security officers accused of human rights abuses, including torture and killings have been arrested. Nine of them are already in court for the torture-death of an opposition activist, Solo Sandeng.
State security forces most frequently implicated in violations were members of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), a paramilitary group known as the “Jungulers,” and the Gambian Police Force.
Those targeted included journalists, political opponents, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, many of whom fled Gambia out of fear, says Human Rights Watch.
Despite widespread allegations of serious abuses committed by the security forces over the last two decades, no members of the state security or paramilitary groups are known to have been convicted or otherwise held to account for torture, killings, or other serious violations.
Gambia’s President Adama Barrow had pledged to have the commission established to ‘get the facts together’ regarding possible crimes of exiled President Yahya Jammeh.