The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) Lead Counsel Essa Faal said that Ministry of Justice had ordered the arrest of commission witnesses and not the commission.
“The recent arrests of TRRC witnesses were ordered by the Ministry of Justice and not the commission. The witnesses, including ex-soldier John C.B Mendy were arrested and charged following their TRRC appearances,” Counsel Faal told journalists at a press conference at the TRRC.
Since it started proceeding in early this year, TRRC has been receiving mixed feelings.
Established to investigate atrocities and violations of human rights committed during the regime of Yahya Jammeh, the commission has since heard from both victims and perpetrators of the regime. Victims and their families hailed the TRRC for getting to the bottom of violations, perpetrators on the other hand, described the process as a witch hunt
But Mr. Faal assured the public that the commission “is not a witch hunting exercise, but a victim-centred process aimed at establishing the truth about violations and abuse of human rights.” He debunked allegations of selective justice by the TRRC. The Commission, he reiterated, is not a court that presides over a criminal trial. He said the TRRC has always endeavoured to remove many features that would liken the process to that of a normal court proceeding.
Faal emphasized truth telling, which according to him, will enable the Commission to achieve its mandate successful.
Mr. Faal’s robust questioning and confrontation of some witnesses was frowned upon. He said “there is no need for confrontation with the witnesses unless there is reason to believe that a witness is not forthcoming or he’s providing false or misleading information.”
He said the commission is yet to establish facts that officials of the defunct National Intelligence Agency have destroyed vital evidence. “Our investigators are working on all the evidence adduced before the commission.”
He warned against evidence destruction is “a crime that the commission cannot take lightly.”
Madi, your idea of “defend your rights”, looks overly extended and sinister. Though everyone by now likely understand the fact the TRRC is not a court of law, we should neither take for granted that the country’s justice systems and the police authority are babysitters to felons and tyrants. That notion however, shouldn’t imply to you that one like me is an advocate for eye-for-an-eye revenge and witch hunting but rather, for the true spirit of “Never Again”. We should be rest assured that no one is going to be summarily executed, unlawfully dismissed from public service/duty, tortured, forcefully disappeared, arbitrarily arrested, shot along the lane, privatizing the state and national resources into a family and friends enterprise, breaking the values of our social fabrics by ethnic profiling, speeding through our neighborhoods in military jeeps – wearing dark glasses and combat gear, buried in a mass graves, gathering citizens at the statehouse for non-state functions or luring women ‘there’ for immoral desires on the pretext of cracking groundnuts! etc., etc. These are all a few among many ” Never Again” is about I guess ..
In aim of preventing all these above in the future, the police authority, have their independence and the competence, to bring charges against suspects of such, that are crimes against the citizenry and the constitutional establishment of the Gambia.