UN Nations Unies
Bureau Régional pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest

Donor Roundtable on the Implementation of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) Recommendations, in the context of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights

16 mai 2023
Donor Roundtable on the Implementation of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) Recommendations, in the context of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights©
Banjul, The Gambia, 12 May 2023 : The Opening ceremony of the Stakeholder Conference and Donor Roundtable on the Implementation of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) Recommendations took place from 12-13 May at Sir Dawda Kairaba International Conference Centre, in Banjul.

In his opening address, the President of the Republic of The Gambia, Adamu Barrow, recalled that 2023 marks the seventy-fifth (75th) anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights ; "a powerful reminder of the importance of upholding and protecting the rights and freedoms of all people, regardless of their origin, race or creed" according to the President.

He reiterated that his government is fully committed to ensuring a comprehensive and effective implementation process and recognised the importance of working in partnership with all stakeholders within the country and the international community. He said “Our focus must be on addressing the root causes of the human rights abuses committed in the country and ensuring that such crimes never happen again. The process includes strengthening our democratic institutions, promoting transparency and accountability, and creating an environment wherein human rights are respected and protected”

The UN Resident Coordinator in the Gambia, Ms Seraphine Wakana, in a similar vein, stated that the UN and its partners have embarked on a year-long initiative entitled "Human Rights at 75" to commemorate the Universal Declaration. She said, "I am extremely proud and pleased to know that the Ministry of Justice is championing this commemoration by organizing this stakeholder meeting under the banner of celebrating human rights at 75."

She also expressed her gratitude to the UN Peace Building Fund’s continued support. The PBF is supporting a post-TRRC Project jointly implemented by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UNDP. Ms Wakana affirmed that “The project will continue supporting the Government adopt effective measures and processes to enable the implementation of the TRRC recommendations in response to victim’s needs” arguing that “The Project aims to enhance the justice sector’s capacity to prosecute cases emanating from the TRRC recommendations and assist the National Human Rights Commission and civil society organisations monitor implementation of the TRRC recommendations.”

Fatou Jatta, a victim of the HIV Presidential Alternative Treatment Programme, addressed the stakeholders, donors, and dignitaries, emphasizing the importance of respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms of all individuals, families, and communities. She highlighted that compensation is only one component of the reparations program, with others including restitution, rehabilitation, satisfaction, and guarantees of non-repetition being equally important. She urged key institutions, donors, and stakeholders to support memorialization activities and to provide urgent medical care, psycho-social support, educational welfare, and livelihood support for the victims. She also encouraged the government and donors to support the Victims Support Trust Fund to help families and loved ones affected by the dictatorship.

The opening ceremony was followed by presentations from the Minister of Justice, Honourable Dawda Jallow, and his team who outlined the main activities under components of the implementation plan. Development partners made interventions pertaining to on-going and future support to The Gambia’s reform agenda. Panel discussions on reparations and law reforms featured during the two-day event. Survivors and victims’ commended the government’s efforts but noted that the pace of prosecutions was slow. In response to this concern, the Minister of Justice observed that for prosecutions to succeed, evidentiary and procedural requirements must be met. During plenary discussions, management of stakeholder expectations was highlighted as an important component of the implementation process. Political dialogue between the various parties was stressed as critical given that some of the country’s democratic short comings stem from or are related to politics.

The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) was established in The Gambia in 2018, to investigate human rights violations that occurred during the 22-year regime of former President Yahya Jammeh. The TRRC concluded its public hearings in 2019 and submitted its final report to the government in January 2021. The report includes a wide range of recommendations for addressing the legacy of past human rights violations, including measures to ensure accountability, provide reparations to victims, and promote reconciliation. The government undertook consultations with stakeholders on the content of the report and released its whitepaper on the 25th of May 2022.

The government of The Gambia has committed to implementing the TRRC recommendations and has developed an implementation plan to guide the process. The implementation plan aims to ensure that the TRRC’s recommendations are fully and effectively implemented, in a manner that is transparent, inclusive, and accountable. The plan outlines the steps that the government will take to implement the various recommendations and identifies the key stakeholders responsible for implementing them.

One of the key components of the implementation plan is the establishment of a transitional justice coordination mechanism to oversee the implementation of the TRRC recommendations. This mechanism which was launched by the Minister of Justice at the Conference, will be responsible for coordinating the efforts of various government agencies, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders involved in the implementation process. The coordination mechanism will also provide a platform for dialogue and consultation with victims, their families, and other stakeholders to ensure that their voices are heard throughout the implementation process.

To ensure accountability, the implementation plan includes measures to strengthen the justice system and enhance access to justice for victims and their families. This includes the establishment of a specialized unit within the Attorney General’s Office to investigate and prosecute cases related to the TRRC’s findings, as well as the provision of legal aid and support services for victims and their families. The plan also includes measures to reform the security sector, to ensure that state security agencies are accountable and respect human rights.

In addition to these measures, the implementation plan includes provisions for promoting reconciliation and healing, including the establishment of a national reparations program to provide financial and other forms of assistance to victims and their families. The program will be guided by principles of gender sensitivity, inclusivity, and participation, and will prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable victims.

For the government and its partners, the rationale behind the organisation of this Stakeholder Conference and Donor Roundtable is wide ranging and includes increased awareness and understanding of the TRRC’s findings and recommendations but also to provide a platform for victims and civil society organizations to voice out their concerns and needs.

In total, about 350 participants took part in this high-level meeting notably, Government officials and representatives of relevant government agencies, Members of the National Assembly, Victims of human rights violations and their families, civil society organizations working on human rights and transitional justice issues, international organizations, development partners and media.