By: Kebba AF Touray
The Minister of Justice, Aboubacar Tambedou, on Monday said his recommendation to release the three Junglers is not an amnesty.
The trio, who testified before the TRRC are Mr. Malick Jatta, Omar Jallow and Amadou Badjie.
He said this recommendation has evoked strong emotions among some victims and concerned members of the public.
He said, “This reaction is quite understandable especially given the revelations the three men have made at the TRRC about some of their activities under former President Jammeh”.
He added, “Let me clarify from the onset, that the recommendation to release the three men is not an amnesty as some claim. That is totally false. It is only the TRRC that can recommend amnesty in appropriate cases”.
He stated that at this point, the objective of the release is to put the three men in a similar situation as those who have appeared at the TRRC and admitted to participating in human rights violations and abuses, but none of them is currently in custody and rightly so.
He said, “The TRRC is not a court of law and one of its primary objectives is to establish the truth in exchange for amnesty and the promotion of healing and national reconciliation”.
Tambedou urged the populace to always remember that in the nation’s quest for justice, the citizenry must also not perpetrate or perpetuate injustice even if that is the popular thing to do.
He warned “We must endeavor to respect the rights of all persons no matter how repulsive we feel about their conduct. We must not do to other acts which we have ourselves condemned in the past. Otherwise, I will be abdicating my responsibility as Minister of Justice for all Gambians and not just some”.
He said it is agreeable that the Junglers are a special category of alleged perpetrators, the reason they have been in custody, they cannot also afford to treat similarly situated persons differently. He noted that all those who assist the TRRC, to establish the truth shall and should be treated the same way.
He averred that they cannot charge anyone including the three men with any crimes at this moment, adding that the TRRC has been mandated to identify for prosecution only those who bear the greatest responsibility for the human rights violations and abuses.
He said, “There are other people out there who may bear the greatest responsibility for these human rights violations and abuses and the decision about who to prosecute will depend on the recommendations of the TRRC based on a totality of all the facts and evidence adduced before it”.
He implored “So let us suspend judgment and give truth a chance because, without the whole truth, we will not achieve our immediate and long term objectives of forgiveness, reconciliation, and accountability”.
He noted that the decision to recommend the release of the three men, who have been in custody for over two and half years now, has not been an easy one for him especially considering the victims and their mourning families”.
He continued, “But I cannot shy away from making decisions because they may be unpopular. I have a responsibility that compels me to consider all relevant factors in making decisions. On this occasion, I have come to the conclusion that it is in the best interest of our country and the victims to release the three men after their testimonies at the TRRC”.
He urged people to be encouraged in telling the truth, adding that there are still many truths out that need to be told, to among others enable the victims to find closure and negate revisionism by laying bare all the facts.
“Sometimes, this will entail making very difficult decisions, but if I believe strongly that my decision will assist in achieving our truth-telling objective, I will not hesitate to make that decision”, he noted.
“I, therefore, continue to count on the understanding of the public and especially the victims. We need your continued trust and partnership in this process if we are to learn from the mistakes of others and make a success of our truth commission”, he urged
Following the public announcement of the Ministry of Justice disclosing a possibility to release Junglers who publicly confessed during their testimonies of the Killing of many Gambians both civilians and security personnel. This sparked a great concern among Gambians both in the country and abroad about the issue, calling the Justice Ministry to re-think their decision.