Gambian authorities have been urged to stop relying on foreign aid to fund the long awaited Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparation Commission (TRRC) process. The TRRC is yet to start sittings due to lack of funds for the nomination of commissioners. Calls for justice have been gaining momentum.
“We cannot provide justice to the victims by depending on foreign aid,” the Victims’ Center Chairperson Sheriff Kijera told reporters on Tuesday during the 15th policy dialogue series organised by the Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (TANGO) at their headquarter in Kanifing.
The Gambia is recovering from 22 years of the Jammeh dictatotship which was marked by continued clampdown on civil liberties, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. The Barrow government has started creating the enabling environment for TRRC to thrive as evidenced by reforms in the security and legal sectors. But recent setbacks have raised fears that the government might be doubling down on a number of promises.
Kijera said the government is not doing much to fix lingering issues that continue to hinder efforts to begin the TRRC. He considered it an “act of embarrassment” for the government to be “begging all over the world” to get funding.
“We have been reduced to beggars. We need to change the status quo. We should set the pace and others will follow,” Kijera added.
The victims’ centre Chair raised alarm over of the 900 million dalasis budget allocated for the Office of the President as compared to the budget for the Justice Ministry. “We need to look into all these issues as far as budget allocation is concerned.”
Speaking from a personnal point of view, TRRC Executive Secretary Dr.Baba Galleh Jallow concurred that the government should have taken ownership of funding the Commission.
“Our work has been delayed because we are funded by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),” Dr. Jallow said, adding that the Gambia government should have put in place necessary resources to fund the entire process.
“We can do it. Otherwise the process will be delayed,” he warned.
The Gambia’s lawmaking body unanimously passed a bill in December that formally established the nine-member TRRC and outlined its composition, objectives, and functions.
“We should have started in April because funds for the selection of commissioners were supposed to come from UNDP,” Jallow said.
The TRRC top official disclosed that UNDP has already made available the funds, but the government is still having issues of disbursing them.
The TRRC has a two year mandate. “After that, we are going to issue a report,” Dr. Jallow said.