Bureau Régional pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest
The Gambia : Integrating Gender to the Transitional Justice Process ©

The Gambia : Integrating Gender to the Transitional Justice Process

6 décembre 2017

In order to promote the changes necessary for more effective and non-discriminatory responses to gender-related issues and crimes by national mechanisms, the West Africa Regional Office of the United Nations for Human Rights and the Ministry of Justice of The Gambia are organizing a Consultation on Gender Integration in the Transitional Justice Process on 4 December in Banjul.

the aim is to work closely with civil society organisations in The Gambia towards the following outputs :

-  Facilitating a meeting of organisations working on gender issues to brainstorm on needs ; establishing a network & identifying leadership as well as, engaging with the Commission’s work to maximise the opportunities created in the transitional justice processes and come up with a roadmap ;
-  Identifying entry points for the integration of gender in the Transitional Justice (TJ) process and in the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commissions (TRRC) ;
-  Supporting the development of a strategy to ensure the effective integration of gender in the transitional justice process ;
-  Designing the advocacy strategy for a policy, which implements laws and policies, guaranteeing the rights of women, which are already adopted by the country, or which need to be revised ;
-  Supporting sensitisation work, outreach to constituencies encouraging women to submit statements and participate in the Commission’s work.

Emerging from a twenty-two year dictatorial rule, in which many atrocities and human rights violations were committed but peaceful alternation of power took place from former President Jammeh to President Adama Barrow in The Gambia, there is demand from the population and the new government for urgent reforms to promote democratic governance, respect for the rule of law and human rights, peace etc. and to address the injustices of the past. Transitional justice is a complex process, unique to each country and can take many forms. In order to be successful, the Gambia must seek to fully understand the process of transitional justice in its own Gambian context. The Gambian public is increasingly calling for justice and reparation, especially those who were illegally arrested and detained, tortured, dismissed from their jobs, or deprived of their properties (land, vehicles, etc.).

In this context, the new Government has indicated their commitment and intention to respect, protect and uphold people’s fundamental rights, including ensuring freedom of expression, equal access to justice, the right to the truth, the right to be free from discrimination and the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs.
Further, the government has announced and launched the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to seek accountability for past human rights violations and abuses, and the need to investigate the alleged human rights violations and abuses committed during former President Jammeh’s regime, and to establish mechanisms for truth seeking, justice and healing as a top priority after 22 years of oppression. It has also indicated its willingness to learn from the experiences of other countries before developing the best model for The Gambia.

In this regard, the integration of gender perspectives throughout the process stands important in order to redress and protect the rights of women and gender issues.

The population of The Gambia is made of 51% of women and girls. The Gambia in its efforts to meet its international obligations has developed national legal frameworks for women’s full and equal participation. The main national reference documents for addressing The Gambia’s commitments to the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) is the National Policy for The Advancement of Gambian Women (NPAGW) 1999-2009. The NPAGW policy was reviewed and replaced by the Gender and Women’s Empowerment Policy 2010 - 2020.

Tackling impunity for gender-based crimes is essential not only to provide a remedy to victims, but also to send a clear message to societies that these crimes cannot be tolerated. The reasons for impunity for gender-related crimes range from inadequate legal frameworks to obstacles that women face in accessing justice- both of a legal/institutional nature and of a socio-economic and cultural nature. Specifically, responses by justice systems can be made ineffective by discriminatory interpretation and implementation of the law ; lack of gender-sensitive procedures in legal system ; poor accountability mechanisms (including corruption) ; and gender-stereotyping and bias by the justice operators.

Strengthening capacities of the judiciary to apply international standards on women’s rights, to investigate and prosecute gender-based crimes and to refrain from and challenge gender stereotyping should contribute to more effective responses and less impunity, as should strengthening gender-sensitive procedures in the legal systems which would encourage victims to come forward. Ensuring that gender-based crimes are properly captured in transitional justice processes is also a fundamental step towards inclusive responses that provide justice to the entire population and contribute to transform the social structures and norms that led to those crimes in the first place.

For this to happen, experience shows that it is important to put in place inclusive consultations, as well as specialized capacity to investigate gender-related crimes, including by CoIs, and other investigative bodies. Efforts to ensure that reparation programmes recognize gender-specific harms is not only part of the right to an effective remedy, but can also have a transformational impact and contribute to prevention of repetition of those crimes.

International and Regional justice systems can also contribute to tackling impunity for gender-based crimes by guiding and informing national responses, legislation and policies. Greater knowledge and capacity by these systems to apply relevant standards is required, as well as greater capacity of civil society organizations to undertake strategic litigation of cases. Efforts to ensure that the interpretation of norms promoted by regional mechanisms is in line with international standards are also important. In the past couple of years, the ICC has made remarkable leaps forward regarding key normative developments in criminalizing sexual violence on an international level, with the first conviction for rape as war crime and crime against humanity in 2016 and the prosecution of “gender-based persecution”. Continued engagement with ICC is important to ensure a progressive development of international jurisprudence on gender-based crimes,

To read more on the Gambia national consultations and transitional justice process :

http://westafrica.ohchr.org/National-consultations-for-the-establishment-of-a-Truth-Reconciliation-and.html

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