Posted - 11 Jul 2019 : 14:57:26
TRRC chairman urges Gambians to give peace a chance
The Point: Thursday, July 11, 2019
Dr. Lamin J.Sise, chairman of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) has implored Gambians to give peace and reconciliation a chance.
Dr. Sise made this clarion call on 8 July 2019 at the opening session of the 6th Session of the TRRC and disclosed that what happened on 26 June involving Yankuba Touray, a former aunta member who refused to testify before the TRRC will never happen again.
Dr. Lamin J. Sise stated that 15 witnesses testified before the Commission including three women making the total to 72 witnesses.
Dr. Sise noted that the hearing of the 5th Session focused mainly on the 1996 Denton Bridge incident involving security forces and UDP supporters, the arrest and detention of UDP members and the circumstances surrounding the murder of late Finance Minister Ousman Koro Ceesay.
Dr. Sise enjoined all Gambians not to be angry or offended at Yankuba Touray’s recent behaviour before the TRRC but urged all Gambians to be calm and adhere to the rule of law.
He expressed gratitude to some women, describing them as courageous and dignified to share their painful experience with the Commission despite all odds.
He reassured all victims and their families that the TRRC values their contribution to its work and promised that TRRC would do everything within its powers to ensure that they all get justice, healing and the reparations they deserve.
Statement by the Chair, Dr. Lamin J. Sise at the opening of the TRRC’s Sixth Session of hearings, Monday, July 8, 2019
The TRRC concluded its fifth session of hearings on Thursday, June 27, 2019. During that session, fifteen witnesses testified before the Commission, including three women. That brings the total number of witnesses who have testified before the Commission to 72.
The hearings of the fifth session focused mainly on the 1996 Denton Bridge incident involving security forces and UDP supporters, the arrest and detention of members of the UDP – both male and female -, and the circumstances surrounding the murder of the late Minister of Finance, Ousman Koro Ceesay.
Witness testimonies revealed the commission by the security forces of gross violations and abuses of human rights of the victims. The violations and abuses perpetrated at Denton Bridge by the security forces included torture and degrading treatment. Witness testimonies during the last session also shed further light on the circumstances surrounding the murder of Mr. Ousman Koro Ceesay.
In a subsequent hearing of the Commission, unfortunately, a key witness, who was expected to provide more information on the Koro Ceesay incident, refused to testify before the Commission, leading to his arrest and subsequent arraignment before the High Court to answer, among other charges, contempt of the TRRC. We fervently hope and pray that what happened here on Wednesday, June 26 involving Mr. Yankuba Touray will never happen again. We also hope that what happened at Kairaba Police Station will not happen again. In this connection, we would implore all Gambians to always abide by the rule of law and to give peace and reconciliation a chance in our society.
However angry or offended we feel, we should always endeavor to remain calm and adhere to the rule of law. We all must respect human rights and the rule of law, however challenging or inconvenient the situation.
Our sixth session starts today, Monday, July 8 and will end on Thursday, July 25, 2019.
As we embark upon this sixth session, we expect to hear testimonies on the suppression of the freedom of the press and the related human rights violations involving the media and individual journalists. We will also hear testimonies from persons adversely mentioned in previous hearings.
We remain grateful to all witnesses who have so far testified before the Commission. We are especially grateful to those courageous and dignified womenwho, despite the odds, were able to share their painful experiences with the Commission and the general public. In testifying before the Commission, these brave women not only educated us on their own personal plights, but also on the plights of their innocent families devastated by acts of lawlessness, wrongful detention, and state bullying of citizens which should never happen in any civilized society.
We wish to reassure all victims and their families that the TRRC values their contribution to our work and that we will do everythingin our power to ensure that they all get the justice, healing and the reparations they deserve.
We hope that many more witnesses will come forward and assist the Commission in carrying out its mandate to create an impartial record of human rights violations and abuses during the period July 1994 – January 2017.
We are pleased to note that Gambians and friends of The Gambia across the board have taken ownership of the TRRC process, and that many are stepping forward to offer much-needed support and solace to the victims of human rights violations and their families.
The TRRC remains committed to fulfilling its mandate to assist our dear country on this difficult path to justice, healing, and reconciliation. The TRRC cannot do this without the support and encouragement of the general public.
And so as always, we continue to crave the public’s continued support, understanding and prayers.
Author: Bruce Asemota
A clear concience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone