EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Commissioners of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission returned from diaspora engagement tour in Europe and the United States, where they sought-after money and human resource.
In the Commission Chairman, Dr. Lamin J. Sise’s view, they received nutritional value in the tour for the work of the Commission, which continued sitting on Monday.
“These engagements were in line with the Commission’s mandate as stipulated in Sections 14 and 15 of the TRRC Act,” he said, adding that it is also in line with the provisions of the African Union policy on transitional justice.
When Eye Africa TV asked what was the point for conducting continental travels when victims of human rights violations are reachable without cost from which funds could have been saved for reparation measures, Imran Darboe, coordinator of the outreach programme said the US and Europe tours were only conducted to bridge the missing gap of information between the Diaspora and the Commission. He said no amount of money invested could have been diverted to serve the victims or the commission in a different way.
“The UNDP has no fund for reparation and the entire trips were handled by them. No penny could have been used by the Commission for a different purpose. This was why we went to raise fund for interim reparation and also engage potential witnesses to prepare for hearings. We engaged them before, through online hearings but this time it was necessary for us to meet them.”
Guided by the label, ‘Diaspora’ is eighth constituent of The Gambia, the outreach coordination team said it was fitting for the Commission to solicit support from them.
“We have raised up to twenty thousand dollars (about one million) within ten days, and more pledges were made. This money will be used for interim reparation purpose, before the government would come up with its packages by the end of the hearings,” Mr. Darboe said.
Essa Jallow, Communication Specialist of the TRRC said one of the greatest aspects of the Europe tour was the search for human resource in the area of psychosocial expertise in the area which, he said is very much needed by some of the victims of the Jammeh regime.
“We’ve met a few Gambians who have wealth of experience in this field and they are willing to support the Commission to activate positive lifestyles of the victims of human rights violations. This has been a big dream for us, and knowing that there are very limited number of experts in this field, we thought the search for our people was a necessity.”
During the hearing break in July, the Commission gathered over one hundred statements from victims of a witch hunts in which people were forced to swallow concoction by the office of the then president in 2009.
Similarly, the diaspora meeting took the form of town hall meetings and dialogue with Gambian in the diaspora to encourage victims’ testimonies, as well as to raise funds.
Since the beginning of hearing in January, one hundred and four witnesses have given testimonies out of which twenty-one were alleged perpetrators and the rest were mostly victims including sixteen women.