Gambian commission seeks answers in the US
Publish date: 16 September 2019
Issue Number: 841
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
The Gambia's Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) has visited four US cities to engage with the Gambian diaspora. The commission has engaged with victims and secured under-oath statements from accused perpetrators and will prepare a report. US citizen Darboe-Jawara says she was tortured and detained for eight months in 2016 while visiting her birth country. She was accused of participating in an unlawful protest, but it was her surname that made her a ripe target. The uncle who had raised her was Ousainou Darboe, a prominent opposition leader, and dissent was not well-tolerated in the era of Yahya Jammeh, who led the country for more than two decades after seizing control in a 1994 coup. Al Jazeera reports that she was given a three-year sentence but was released after eight months, following Jammeh's surprise electoral defeat in December 2016 and his subsequent exile to Equatorial Guinea. ‘When I came back (to Maryland), we were of course behind on bills. Our mortgage was behind,’ now Darboe-Jawara said. She is hopeful that the commission, which started proceedings in January, might help. Gambian-Americans have been following the commission proceedings which are streamed live.
President Adama Barrow ran his 2016 campaign on a pledge to establish the commission in order to restore trust between the state and civil society. The Organisation for World Peace (OWP) notes that the commission's hearings began in January and are expected to continue until the end of 2020. At the conclusion of the hearings, the state will consider the extradition of Jammeh who fled to Equatorial Guinea in 2017 with millions of dollars and luxury vehicles. 'The TRRC is a critical first step for Barrow’s new administration and is a healthy move for a transitioning government seeking to establish legitimate political institutions. The fact that the nation is paying such close attention to the hearings speaks to the fact that the Gambian people also want transparent political institutions and demand accountability for the crimes against humanity suffered under the Jammeh regime,' OWP noted in a statement.