ANEKED publishes report after forensic investigations workshop for Jammeh’s victims

EYEAFRICA TV: Kanifing, THE GAMBIA:- The African Network against Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances (ANEKED) has published its report after concluding a 4-day workshop on forensic investigations.

The document, according to ANEKED, is a compilation of challenges faced by the families of victims of enforced disappearance in the search for their loved ones that disappeared during Yahya Jammeh’s regime from 1994 to 2017 as well as and the identification of remains recovered to-date.

“[It] includes recommendations proposed by workshop participants for a better process, a process that would accords more respect for the dignity of victims at every stage of the search and identification of remains,” Sirra Ndow, Gambia Country Representative for ANEKED said in a statement.

“It is our hope that this publication will initiate a more meaningful dialogue and broader consultation between victim families, civil society, forensic experts, intergovernmental organizations and the State in the quest for better practices in searching more effectively for disappeared persons arising from the State’s obligation to search and victims’ right to freely participate in the process of establishing circumstances of enforced disappearances and the fate of their loved ones.”

The workshop, held in March, was attended by representatives of 20 victim families of enforced disappearances and representatives from the Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, The Ministry of Justice, Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), The Gambia Police Force, The Gambia Armed Forces, The Gambia Press Union, State Intelligence Agency and the Organization for Psychosocial Innovation.

A sorrowful relative awaiting as the remains of captured soldiers executed on 10th/11th November 1994 were being excavated at Yundum Barracks Photo: Jason Florio.

According to the report, the workshop also attempted to bridge the gap between families and investigators in the process of the search and identification, as well as come up with recommendations for a better process.

“Further attempts were made to highlight the importance of psychosocial support (PSS) and its role in the process of searching for loved ones, as well as help victims gain coping skills before, during and after exhumations,” the report noted.

It also confirmed that the workshop was the first time family members whose loved ones were exhumed at Yundum Barracks were getting any information about the status of the identification of the remains of their family member since the day of exhumation.

“There is a long way to go in the search and identification process of the victims of Yahya Jammeh’s brutal regime,” the compiled report highlighted, adding, “Even more concerning, the process has been marred by bitter and heartbreaking experiences narrated by victim families on one side and frustrating challenges experienced by investigators and other stakeholders on the other.”

Led by young African human rights activists, ANEKED campaigns against forced disappearances and summary executions.

The network is part of the campaign by the Jammeh to Justice coalition launched in October 2017. The campaign brings together several human rights activists and organisations in a bid to seek justice for the victims of the Jammeh regime.

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