The Gambian President, Adama Barrow, on Thursday, received a three-year report compiled by the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) which details the human rights abuses, torture and killings of citizens under a former leader, Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year dictatorship.
Barrow at the State House in The Gambia made the promise, saying, “My government will study the Report carefully for appropriate action. Thereafter, the Government will inform the general public of its position in a White Paper.”
The Gambian President’s position is in stark contrast with that of Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, under whose administration the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry released the report of #EndSARS victims and killings perpetrated by the Nigerian Army, particularly at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos State.
Buhari, while receiving the United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinkens, had said his government would see what action to take after the states concerned had acted on the reports by the panels.
This came days before his Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, launched an arsenal of attacks and desperate blackmail against the #EndSARS panel report, saying the victims were fictitious and the report was full of “recycled lies.”
In contrast, in The Gambia, the commission to investigate human rights abuses in the country wrapped up a sweeping three-year public inquiry into former president Jammeh's dictatorship and was commended by the president at a public event on Thursday.
The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) delivered its report to President Barrow nine days before an election in which the exiled Jammeh urged his supporters to vote for an opposition coalition.
Nearly 400 witnesses testified before the TRRC, including both victims and perpetrators.
"To forgive and forget with impunity the violations and abuses would not only undermine reconciliation but would also constitute a massive and egregious cover-up of the crimes committed," the commission said in a statement.
According to Reuters, in all, 240-250 people died at the hands of the state or its agents, the commission said. It recommended that the "persons who bear the greatest responsibility for abuses" be prosecuted but did not name anyone.
Barrow or his successor has six months to decide how to respond to the report, which was not made public.
In his speech obtained by SaharaReporters on Thursday, the Gambian President said, “Many African countries have established Truth Commissions, in one form or another, to provide a platform for victims of human rights abuses to relay their stories, hold perpetrators accountable and determine reparation packages, where necessary.
“The Gacaca Courts of Rwanda is an example. Despite the genocide, the people have reconciled their differences, and are now working together to develop their country.
“Here in The Gambia, the Commission was mandated to get to the bottom of human rights abuses, uncover the truth to guarantee a clear historical record of what transpired in our beloved country and submit recommendations on reparations for deserving victims.
“Through the TRRC, Gambians now know what happened on Gambian soil in the past. Although we have decided as a country to unearth the truth, our desire is to create a path for healing and reconciliation, with the goal of co-existing peacefully as Gambians.
“I am certain that, if we choose to do so, we can live together in peace and harmony, without any form of injustice, and nurture our young democracy in a stable nation where the rule of law prevails in the best interest of all.
“Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, under the leadership of the Chairman, Dr. Lamin Ceesay, I commend all the Commissioners, the Legal team, the Secretariat and the whole TRRC team for running the Commission's affairs during its months of work. I thank you all for carrying out this national task successfully.
“In a special way, I thank the witnesses and their families for their fortitude and courageous testimonies. I assure them that my government will ensure that justice is done, but I urge them to be patient and allow the legal process to take its course. That way, justice will prevail, and we will be able to heal as a country and move forward united and stronger, with greater determination.”