The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) set up to probe into human rights abuses of the former regime, has resumed its public hearing today, focusing mainly on the conditions at Gambia’s prisons and the attacks by the motorcade of the ex-president Yahya Jammeh.
The commission’s mandate is expected to end in the final week of November but the executive secretary says it will need an extension of the mandate to be able to prepare its findings and recommendations.
The decision to suspend the public hearing was premised on the government’s order to ban public engagements across the country in order to curb the coronavirus. However, the Commission has announced last month that it will go ahead with the hearing on June 8th following consultations with the attorney general and minister of justice.
“The Commission will pick up from where it stopped, with witnesses expected to testify on road attacks by Jammeh’s motorcade and conditions at Gambia’s prisons,” the TRRC statement indicated.
The Gambia’s prison condition is evidently in a bad situation with dozens of prisoners constantly complaining about the poor hygienic environment and feedings. The Commission had earlier visited the ground to get first-hand information.
Since its commencement on January 7, 2019, the commission has heard from several witnesses – both perpetrators and victims. Dozens of perpetrators mainly jungulars have confessed to carrying out excruciating killing and torturing scores of citizens and non-citizens on the orders of the ex-leader.
But while some crucial confessions were made by the perpetrators especially in the case of veteran journalist Deyda Hydara, whose death circumstances was not known for more than a decade, the mysterious murder of an ex-state minister Ousman Koro Ceesay remains unclear. The junta administration was heavily accused of his murder. But the Vice-Chairman at the time Edward Singhatey has denied the allegation during his marathon testimony before the commission.
Koro’s murder was confirmed to be executed by groups of soldiers including Alagie Kanyi, now with the Immigration department as per his confession at the TRRC in 2019.
Kanyi claimed that both Edward and his brother Peter Singhatey took part in the killing which he said was done at Yankuba Touray’s residence in 1995. Yankuba refused to testify at the commission claiming an immunity clause in the Constitution for all junta members regarding their actions during the transition. He is since being detained at Mile II prisons as he attends periodic hearings at the high court on murder indictment.