By Desmond Davies, GNA London Bureau Chief
London, Jan. 05, GNA – The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) established to look into alleged human rights violations during the 22-year rule of former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh will begin hearings on Monday, January 07t.
To prepare for this long-awaited event, an outline of a 12-month work plan has been developed and is being drafted, the Commission’s Executive Secretary, Dr Baba Galleh Jallow, said in a statement.
“This plan indicates the number of possible hearings to be conducted during 2019, the specific areas of focus for these hearings, and will include a number of projected outreach activities for the year 2019,” he added.
Eleven (11) Commissioners and more than 70 members of staff are already in place, prepared to undertake the “challenging task of truth-seeking, justice, and healing”.
Subsidiary committees covering human rights violations; amnesty; reparations; child protection and sexual and gender-based violence; and reconciliation have been set up.
All but one of the Committees have five Commissioners on it, the other has six members.
The Commissioners sit on at least two of the Committees and each committee has already met to develop its specific terms of reference in line with the provisions of the TRRC Act.
The business of evidence-gathering is continuing, as the Commission urges victims of alleged human rights violations in 1994, when a then Lieutenant Jammeh seized power, to come forward and “share their statements”.
The process involves 17 statement-takers, who have been talking to people already identified by the TRRC.
“Victims or witnesses who wish to provide statements or other information related to 1994 violations are advised to do so as soon as possible in order not to miss the opportunity of doing so once the research and investigations focus move away from 1994,”. Dr Jallow said.
Last November, he told the GNA in Banjul: “Who is going to be called before the Commission will depend on whose names come out of the testimonies that are to be given.
“We are not presuming that anyone is guilty of anything as of now.
“Everything will come out from the evidence that will be tendered before the Commission.
“But during the investigations if people are named, they will be called to appear before the Commission.
“So, it’s not just Jammeh. Jammeh was the leader of the coup and he emerged as the President so we have to have a starting point,” Dr Jallow stated.
The hearings are taking place at the Dunes Resort in Banjul, a former luxury beach hotel, said to be among the over 180 properties that were owned by ex-President Jammeh, but now confiscated.
It has been converted to accommodate the TRRC secretariat, with the former lobby, now the main hall for the hearings, fitted with audio-visual equipment and witness protection mechanisms.