The Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubacarr (Ba) Tambadou Friday met with victims of the regime of Yahya Jammeh over his decision to recommend the release of three jungulars from detention.
Malick Jatta, Omar Jallow and Amadou Badjie, who have been in military detention for more than two years without trial, became the first jungulars (members of Jammeh’s death squad) to confess to killings at the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission.
On Monday, Tambadou held a press conference in Banjul where he formally announced his decision to recommend for their release, arguing that was in the best interest of the victims and the country. But families whose loved ones the three jungulars confessed to have killed in cold blood, expressed outrage at the minister’s decision.
During a face-to-face meeting with a dozen victims at the Victims Center Friday, Tambadou reiterated that the decision to recommend for the junglers’ release was in the best interest of the victims and the Gambia’s transitional justice process.
“Let us remember that the first witness who appeared before the TRRC to talk about what happened and the people they killed have helped the victims’ families a lot. They also told us who ordered them to do what they did. So it was clear to people,” he told the victims.
Tambadou argued that the TRRC is meant for people to know the truth, suggesting that the jungulars’ confessions were traded for their release.
“The most important thing is that those who commit crimes should come to us and tell us what they have done, and tell us the truth so that we can know what lies ahead of us.”
Not every victim was impressed by Tambadou’s arguments.
“The Minister should have seen the Victims first and have dialogue with them before taking the decision,” said Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh, a former state minister who was sentenced to life in jail for treason and later pardoned by ex-president Jammeh. “If you take the decision without first having dialogue with the victims, it would bring problems,” he added.
Pateh Jallow is a former military officer who was implicated in the 11 November 1994 alleged coup plot and victimized as a result. He was pleased that Tambadou clarified the release of the jungulars does not mean they’ll be granted amnesty.
Some of the victims’ families who have been outraged by the decision to release the jungulars were absent from the Friday meeting.
Meanwhile, Tambadou said the three jungulars would be released ‘soon’. He did not give any specific date.