By Mamadou Dem
The Ministry of Justice in collaboration with the French Embassy in Dakar, yesterday began a two day “Essential Course on Transitional Justice” for the staff of the aforesaid Ministry, Civil Society Groups, the Media and members of The Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubacarr Tambadou, said Transitional Justice deals with how society comes to terms with past atrocities and abuses through the search for truth, reconciliation and healing and that it employs both judicial and non-judicial processes to ensure accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation.
According to the Minister, the application of Transitional Justice is another important vehicle for the transportation of societies. He said large scale reforms of legal, political and administrative institutions are usually rolled back, as a result of such processes.
“Restructuring of the Judiciary in terms of personnel, training and infrastructure, becomes necessary and imperative given the lack of public trust and collision between the judiciary and the executive,” said Tambadou.
“Reform of the Police and Armed Forces as well as the security services, in general institutions mostly perceived to be at the center of most violations of human rights in the past 22 years, become inevitable,” he added.
He said the objective is to have a robust force endowed with adequate resources for the security of the citizenry who are well capacitated in human rights education and subjected to civilian control measures as a prerequisite for the substance of the country’s young democracy. In the same vain, the principle of reform would have to be extended to a rather fragmented civil service to put in place mechanisms for its effectiveness and efficiency and professionalism to ensure transparency and accountability of its senior management and of course to combat corruption and waste, in all its forms.
‘‘All these measures are geared towards ensuring that people who take cause of atrocities, are unveiled, diagnosed and analysed, with a view to taking necessary measures to guaranty non-reoccurrence. There is a lot of hard work and resources required to do such some monumental tasks. A large scale of participants is drawn from civil and right base organizations, as civil society is indeed indispensable to the success of Transitional Justice.’’
According to the Minister, CSo’s have played important roles in the design and monitoring of the Truth Commission in Sierra Leone, South Africa and other countries; that an outcome of the national consultative meetings on TRRC there was an overwhelming support and consensus on the need to speedily establish the TRRC as most believed it is a tool that would serev as a vehicle in reconciling the nation. Most Gambians also outlined that the Commissioners of the Truth Commission, should be Gambian Nationals of proven integrity.
“As members of the press are here, I want to urge the need to expand the frontiers of our outreach. Transitional Justice has multifaceted dimensions and one important component is outreach. We need to engage the general populace to achieve the transformation we desire. The media should engage the public in all aspects pertaining to Transitional Justice including reparation among others. It is my expectation that the knowledge and skills acquired, will broaden the understanding of the participants on the concept of Transitional Justice.
We are at a cross road. And as a society in dilemma, it is the time for some critical decisions. We want accountability and at the same time, do not want this to divide us further and jeopardize our peace and stability. We want to put victims at the center of the Transitional Justice process, to restore their dignity and provide reparation against the background of the realities of our fragile economy.
Speaking earlier, Briard Luc, the Deputy Head of Mission at the French Embassy said Human Rights Defenders, Civil Society Actors, Journalists and everyone, must have an understanding of the mechanisms of Transitional Justice in order to take the necessary measures.
He said it will be a paradox to have waited 20 years for the departure of the dictator and demand a democratic regime to do everything in six months. Transitional Justice takes time and because of it’s complexity, the training is organized.