The APRC National Assembly member for Foni Kansala, Musa Amul Niassi has voiced his skepticism regarding the setting up of the TRRC.
In an interview with this paper, he posited that the Gambia has not encountered what other countries have gone through warranting this small country to go for a TRRC. Hon Niassi cited the composition of the TRRC saying “You cannot bring a criminal who wanted to topple a legitimate government, failed in the process and ran away. To include that person in the TRRC, I cannot understand and I question; how serious and sincere the government is in putting up a TRRC”
Hon Niassi went further emphasized his wish that even if we want to go ahead with the TRRC, we should adopt the Ghana practice which for him is the best the Gambia can emulate and put in practice. He maintains his fear for a disunited Gambia because in the event the TRRC is to witch hunt certain individuals and selective justice becomes the order of the day then the much desired reconciliation will not be achieved and the Gambia is too small to be divided politically.
Hon Niassi calls on the Government to revisit the idea of the TRRC noting that the money to be spent on the TRRC can be well placed in more meaningful development projects that the citizenry will benefit from.
“It will be disturbing if the country plunges itself in a situation of fear if the TRRC conducts its proceedings in an unholy way. So my advice is to adopt the Ghana model where the Commission helped to reconcile the people of Ghana by finding out the truth about past human rights abuses and helping those who were hurt by the abuses to deal with their pain and to move on with their lives.” According to Hon. Niassi the Ghana Commission also helped those who participated in the abuses to come to terms with the experiences and to obtain forgiveness.
This should be the guiding principle of the Commission. “One should not compare the Gambia’s TRRC with what happened in Rwanda, Sierra leone or South Africa, that is will be a grave mistake and if President Barrow should state that the TRRC was set up as a means of addressing the legacy of 22 years of former dictatorial rule, adding that it is imperative for The Gambia to carry out investigations of the 22 years of human rights abuses and violations committed by the former Gambian dictator”.
By making reference to the Gambia TRRC as the 6th Truth Commission that would be launched in Africa, and citing the South Africa after the end of Apartheid and Sierra-Leone after the end of the brutal civil war was really uncalled for. The atrocities committed in those countries are monumental and they range from genocide to atrocities like dismembering body parts as was manifest in the Sierra Leone civil war. It was unfortunate that this was made mention.
On the presence of the ICC Chief Prosecutor and her remarks, Hon. Niassi welcomed her advice of helping the Commission in their task without politicising the process. He hopes that her advice will be professional. Hon. Niassi called on all to be God-fearing in their testimonies and allow for fair play to take its course. People should not use personal vendetta and say things that are unfounded. We must be honest to ourselves and fear God.