Gambia’s justice minister has informed journalists on Thursday that the commission of inquiry their government wants to establish to look into alleged crimes of former dictator Yahya Jammeh will be set up within the next six months.
Sheriff Tambadou also said he is at the final stage of drafting the terms of reference for the establishment of a commission of inquiry to look into the financial and business related activities of Jammeh following consultations with President Adama Barrow.
Already, Gambian police have opened an investigation into the finances of Jammeh who was accused of stealing at least 4 billion dalasi of taxpayers’ funds.
“A truth and reconciliation commission with appropriate reparations for victims will be set up within the next six months and public hearing will be expected to commence by the end of the year,” he revealed.
“We will need to adapt the lessons leant from other TRCs to our particular context in The Gambia. Meanwhile, consultations are currently taking place to identify appropriate persons of high moral character and integrity from a cross section of our social, cultural and religious communities for appointment as commissioners to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”
He said they are understudying the commission of inquiry in other countries that has similar experiences like Gambia especially post-apartheid South Africa and post war Serra Leone.
Already, there are 9 former intelligent agents under Jammeh who are taken to court over murder charges.
Though Tambadou said his ministry is not ready to deal with such cases because of their complexity in nature, but he insisted they will continue the prosecutions of those already before the courts for allege crimes under Jammeh.
He also said he would make a case for the abolishment of the death penalty in the Gambian constitution after the country’s April 6 National Assembly elections when reforms are expected.
The former UN war crimes prosecutor also spoke of his ministry’s commitment to reform the criminal justice system in Gambia.
He also revealed their intentions to work with the Gambia Press Union, information ministry and international partners to reform draconian media laws that restrict the work of journalists in the country.
“The ministry of justice has also been in contact with some international organisations including Article 19, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and the International Bar Association in order to seek support for the justice sector reforms,” he said.
“In consultation with the ministry of information and communication infrastructure, we will be reviewing a draft memorandum of understanding on a tripartite partnership between the ministry of justice, the Gambia Press Union and Article 19 in respect of reforms of the media laws in the country.”
He also said they are currently working on settling an over 44 million dollars worth of legal cases that Jammeh’s government has lost to company lawsuits and against individuals such as journalists.
“… The Gambia now faces a potential legal liability bill in excess of two billion dalasis. The ministry of justice is currently exploring various options for quick resolution of these cases so that we can put them behind us…,” Tambadou said.