The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) was set up by an act of parliament to look into the extra judiciary killings, tortures and disappearances of Gambians and the likes during the 22 years of Yahya Jammeh’s dictatorship. Most importantly, to help establish the truth, heal the wounds and bring to justice the perpetrators of those heinous crimes and closure for the victims and their families.
However, the Justice Minister of the Gambia, Mr Babucarr Tambedou’s announcement that some of the fearsome former hit-men of Yahya Jammeh known as the Junglers who testified before the TRRC are to be released imminently, would only intensify the division, pain and injustice Jammeh had inflicted on us during his misrule. It took me three days to come to terms with the reprehensible plan that these people are to release.
According to Mr Tambedou, “without the revelations by these three men, we probably would never have established the facts about which they testified on a first-hand account basis.” However, Mr Tambedou, do you know even the thought of releasing these people into our streets is a threat to the country’s national security? If you and your government are in any doubt as to the pains and sufferings of Gambians, you have all seen the reactions of people when the Clown Yankuba Touray contemptuously refused to testify before the commission last month. That I think should serve you like a notice that we are not ready to accept anything less than we the victims and the country deserves.
Mr Tambedou, how can you guarantee that a) these people will not try to escape your jurisdiction, b) how can you guarantee the safety of the general public from these dangerous and remorseless killers? In fact Mr Tambedou, how can you guarantee the safety of these killers on our streets? Your plans to release these people will only exacerbate the complex problems than help solve the mess Jammeh left the country in.
Mr Tambedou, these questions may seem simple, but they require complicated answers and you have said in your press briefing that “this is a difficult decision to take”, but I have no doubt in my mind you and your government, in fact, had done the opposite, you are trying to “chicken out” of the problem. How would it be difficult when you rightly took Yankuba Touray to court and charged him for murder while the TRRC is still ongoing and that does not prevent or stop the Junglers from appearing before the TRRC.
Mr Tambedou, you’ve said you don’t want to scare potential witnesses from appearing before the TRRC and you can’t prosecute all those who committed crimes. This may come to some people as a surprise but I have never been in doubt that president Barrow and his government that you are serving, care less about the plight of the victims and more about how he will entrench his position as the president. Else you will not be sharing a cabinet with two people who were accomplices to the dictatorship in the Gambia.
This is relevant because Mr Mamabureh Njie the former finance minister under Jammeh and current occupier of the same office in President Barrow’s government had testified and acknowledged before the Janneh Commission that he or his actions had helped Jammeh loot our country. Also, the former Foreign minister under Jammeh and current occupier of the same office, Mr Momodou Tangara was adversely mentioned by Ndey-Tapha Sosseh at the TRRC. So how could your government be sincere with the truth when they have at the heart of the same government two individuals who helped perpetuate the dictatorship?
It beggars belief Mr Tambedou, that any responsible government will release a killer who confessed to being involved or participated in the executions of at least 48 people just for the flimsy excuses that it will encourage others to come forward, to tell the truth. Whether or not you know, not everyone who testified at the TRRC would even say the truth as we have witnessed from General Alagie Martin and just recently from Ismaila Jammeh and Alieu Jeng who blatantly refused to testify truthfully at the TRRC. But yet you chose to ignore those facts.
Mr Tambedou, you’ve also said in your press briefing that you want to treat all suspects fairly since some people were adversely mentioned at the TRRC but are not arrested, so why should the Junglers be kept continually. Again, the simple questions I would ask you are, why should I as a victim continue to suffer indefinitely while the criminals go free? Why didn’t you arrest the co-conspirators and murders of Koro Ceesay but only Yankuba was charged for it so far? Is that not selective justice, if we have to use your reasoning?
You know Mr Tambedou, some members of the public are doing all they could to discredit the work of the TRRC with their disinformation campaign and do you not think you releasing these thugs into our streets will only strengthen that exercise? However, it’s sad to say but the same government that set the commission has begun to undermine the TRRC but most crucially, betray the trust and confidence of Gambians in the process of us seeking the truth and justice.
Finally Mr Tambedou, I will advise that you reverse your decision with immediate effect if you want the TRRC to continue to be relevant to the people. I will also like to remind you what the British government did with one of their citizens Samima Begun who left the UK in February 2015, aged 15, to join the Islamic State. Her intention to return to the UK earlier this year resulted in a public debate which prompted the UK government to revoke her citizenship. Now, you may or may not agree with that decision, but it shows that when it comes to national security, the interest of the country takes precedence over anything.
Also, different cases but important enough to draw your attention to Mr Tambedou, when Robert Mueller the Special Counsel was investigating the Russian meddling into the 2016 US presidential elections, he did not wait until the end of his work for him to recommend prosecution of some of the people but he did so while investigation was on. So why can’t you recommend similar actions for those who bear the brunt of the evil?
Mr Tambedou, I hope that you will factor in the reaction of the public on your plans to release the Junglers and reconsider your decision with immediate effect. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure the detainees rights are not violated, however, its also your responsibility to prosecute crimes committed by the Junglers.