Dear readers of JiC,
As some of you will know, over the last few months, I have been doing work and research on The Gambia’s transition following the end of Yahya Jammeh’s authoritarian rule. Last July, I was part of a joint effort between the Wayamo Foundation (where I act as Deputy Director) and the Africa Group for Justice and Accountability (AGJA) which provided feedback to Minister of Justice Ba Tambadouon on legislation that created a Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission. In late October, I also had the opportunity to be part of a three-person delegation which visited The Gambia for in-depth consultations with key actors and to see how Wayamo and AGJA might be able to assist in The Gambia’s efforts to confront its past and achieve justice and accountability for Jammeh-era crimes. It was an eye-opening experience speaking to victims and survivors, relevant ministers and political officials, journalists, students, and police officers. The challenge ahead for The Gambia is immense. But so too is the opportunity.
In this context, I wanted to share with readers the mission report from our consultations in The Gambia entitled Meeting Expectations on the Road to Justice: Achieving Accountability in The Gambia. Most importantly, the report offers recommendations on a number of key issues and challenges facing the country in its efforts to achieve justice and accountability for past crimes as well as building respect for the rule of law and preventing any slide-back to authoritarian rule.
Here is the report overview:
The Africa Group for Justice and Accountability (AGJA) and the Wayamo Foundation have been engaged in The Gambia since July 2017, when they were requested to make recommendations to the Minister of Justice, Abubacarr Tambadou, on the proposed Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission. Subsequent to its report and at Minister Tambadou’s express invitation, an AGJA/Wayamo fact-finding delegation was sent to the country in late October 2017 to ascertain the nature of the challenges confronting The Gambia’s transition and, in particular, with regards to achieving justice and accountability for human rights violations and crimes perpetrated under the former regime. The delegation’s efforts have since been described by high-ranking officials as the “most thorough” consultative process undertaken in the country since the beginning of its democratic transition.
Through a series of broad consultations with key stakeholders in the transitional process, including members of government, civil society, academia, and the diplomatic community, the delegation sought to understand the challenges and priorities surrounding the achievement of justice and accountability in the country. The delegation was led by former Tanzanian Chief Justice, Mohamed Chande Othman, and included human rights advocate Fatiha Serour (Algeria) and Wayamo Foundation Deputy Director, Mark Kersten (Canada).
Over four days of consultations, the delegation held meetings with a wide spectrum of interlocutors, ranging from the country’s Vice President, Ministers of Justice and Foreign Affairs, Inspector-General of Police, Speaker and members of the National Assembly, to representatives from the United Nations Development Programme, United Kingdom, United States and European Union embassies, Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations, University Student Union, and Press Union.
Based on the delegation’s consultations as well as ongoing research on the country’s transition conducted at the Wayamo Foundation, this mission report offers a series of recommendations to authorities and officials in The Gambia as they continue to work on achieving justice and accountability and building a state that eagerly and effectively defends the rule of law and human rights. It is also expected that it will inform the work of the Wayamo Foundation, AGJA and other partners interested in further supporting The Gambia’s transition process.
A copy of the rule report can be found here. As always, please do share your thoughts!