Gambia truth commission starts to address Jammeh-era rights abuses

A truth and reconciliation commission has begun to investigate alleged rights abuses during the 22-year-long rule of Yahya Jammeh. Authorities have vowed to shed light on extrajudicial killings, torture and other abuses.

A truth commission in Gambia has begun investigating alleged rights abuses committed during the 22-year regime of Yahya Jammeh.

Modelled on South Africa’s investigation into the apartheid era, The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) aims to shed light on extrajudicial killings, torture, forced disappearances and other alleged abuses during the Jammeh regime. It’s expected to last two years.

The initial proceedings of the commission plan to hear testimony from witnesses and victims of the 1994 coup that brought Jammeh to power in the tiny West African country.

“Today is the day, and we want to hear from every single witness and victim,” said Baba Jallow, TRRC executive secretary and a former journalist who was forced into exile in 2000.

Uncovering abuses

Amnesty International said Monday the start of the hearings “is an important initial step toward securing justice, truth and reparations in Gambia and shows a strong commitment by the government to break with a past of systematic human rights violations.”

“We hope that the testimonies and the information collected during these hearings will enable the truth to be known and made public and contribute to a renewed commitment to justice and accountability for all those Gambians that have been victims of human rights violations for more than 22 years,” the rights group said.

The 11-member commission is authorised to advise prosecution of perpetrators and recommend financial compensation to victims.

Truth and reconciliation commissions were popularised by South Africa’s post-apartheid experience in the 1990s. Proponents say they allow abuses to be uncovered and countries to move on from trauma.

But critics say crimes are often dealt with too leniently, and say the commissions may be used to go after political opponents. — Deutsche Welle

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Deutsche Welle 1
Guest Author

Related stories

Climate science’s blind spot for heat waves in southern Africa

The lack of detailed information on extreme heat impacts hinders disaster response and preparedness.

George Hallett: Nomad, raconteur and photographer who ‘became the camera’

The renowned South African photographer understood how to look for the tucked-away spaces that were the sources of both light and dark

The journalist who was shot in cold blood

Ahmed Divela was one of Ghana’s most fearless investigative journalists. This edited excerpt about his killing is from Faces of Assassination

Zimbabwe: What is the current status of the Torture Docket case?

International crimes must be prosecuted and domestic jurisdictions are well placed to do this. Domestic prosecutions based on universal jurisdiction are on the rise

Reading List: Dionne Searcey

The author and journalist shares a reading list from her time as The New York Times bureau chief for West Africa

The covert social effects of Covid-19

The manner in which some Senegalese people talk about homosexuality and how they discuss Covid-19 bears a disconcerting resemblance

New education policy on gender violence released

Universities and other higher education institutions have to develop ways of preventing or dealing with rape and other damaging behaviour

Cambridge Food Jozini: Pandemic or not, the price-gouging continues

The Competition Commission has fined Cambridge Food Jozini for hiking the price of its maize meal during April

Sekhukhune’s five-year battle for water back in court

The residents of five villages are calling for the district municipal manager to be arrested

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday