By: Kebba AF Touray

Civil Society Organizations on Tuesday 20th February 2018, validated a report on ‘Participatory Assessment of Needs and Opportunities for Civil Society to Initiate and Support Justice, Accountability and Reconciliation.’

The report is said to enable CSOs to add their input and map out ways towards their intervention in this process. The validation ceremony which was held in Kololi, was organized by ‘WANEP’ in collaboration with ‘Search for Common Ground’ and ‘YMCA’

Mr. John Njie of YMCA and TANGO, revealed that his major concern was to try to get CSOs together in the spirit of transitional justice, to map out a way forward for their intervention in this process. He expressed delight for their association in the process, in order to shape the direction that the nation should take, because the country is at a cross road.

“CSOs need to partner with Government and give all the prerequisites needed in ensuring that the nation gets on the right direction and as we go through the document, I appeal to all to see where we should be placed in supporting the process”, he cited. Njie who is also the Vice Chairperson of the Technical Committee on Transitional Justice representing CSOs, urged participants to actively partake in the discussion noting that at the end, it is the Gambia that wins.

Mr. Emil Touray, the president of the Gambia Press Union (GPU), described the event as important in view of the fact that they are working to pave the way forward for the nation’s future. “Our country is at a cross road and it behoves on us as Gambians to move heaven and earth in ensuring that we put all the necessary measures in place to ensure that we help Government in its reform agenda”, he emphasized. He said the transitional process requires a lot of activities and thus Gambians cannot fold their hands and expect Government to come up with all the necessary solutions for the country. He called on the citizenry to support Government in the process; that the promotion of these universal values, is everybody’s responsibility. “An attack on freedom of expression and human rights in The Gambia, is an attack on freedom of expression and human rights in any part of the world and if The Gambia is affected in any way or the other, other countries will also be affected”, said Mr. Touray. He continued that no nation can be built without the principles of good governance, accountability and transparency because they are essential ingredients that must always be taken into consideration in any development initiatives.

Mr. Aaron Weah from ‘Search for Common Ground’ said their mission generally is to help transform the way the world deals with conflict; that currently they have a membership of about 43 countries around the globe. Mr. Weah explained that their objective is to facilitate national dialogues and support partners because they believe in behavioural and attitudinal change, using the media inter alia, in the entire process of transitional justice.

For her part, the ECOWAS Ambassador to The Gambia Vabah K. Gayflor, said this is a new dawn in the country and encouraged participants to take advantage of the rare opportunities provided in ensuring that the future of the country is secured for the betterment of the citizenry. She assured participants of ECOWAS’ support whenever needed.

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