Minister Tambadou Vows to Deal with ‘Outrageously Dishonest’ TRRC Witnesses
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubacarr Tambadou has defended the recent arrest and indictment of two witnesses of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC).
John Charles B. Mendy alias JCB and Lamin Senghore alias Assassin were arrested after their TRRC testimonies and charged with perjury. Some people took to the social media to criticize the arrests and accused the ministry of interfering with the work of the TRRC.
But speaking to journalists Tuesday, Tambadou said the two ex-soldiers were arrested because they were ‘outrageously dishonest’ in their testimonies as alleged perpetrators during the 22-year repressive rule of former president Yahya Jammeh.
“I will not change that attitude. I will not change my mind about it. I will continue with that policy with aggressiveness and rigour. There is no compromise on it. They’ve had two years to think about it. They have been reminded constantly to tell the truth,” he said.
Minister Tambadou listed factors that he’d use to test the testimonies of witnesses before making decision over whether or not should be arrested.
“I have decided that the test of outrageous dishonesty will be based on a number of factors. It will be based on the evidence adduced so far before the TRRC, the nature or gravity of the human rights violations, the alleged role of the perpetrator, and the materiality of the dishonesty.”
He told journalists that he has discretion as the Attorney General to initiate prosecution which the TRRC has no control over. He said his decision to arrest and prosecute such witnesses is meant to complement the work of the TRRC.
“We should always have the victims at the forefront of our mind. We are only satisfied when the victims are satisfied with the proceedings at the TRRC. We have learned the lessons of other truth commissions around the world and we don’t want to repeat those same mistakes. We are satisfied when victims find closure.”
The Minister said he would understand the issues of inconsistencies in the testimonies of witnesses due to loss of memory after 25 years. “However, when I conclude that a particular witness has been outrageously dishonest, then the consequences will be prosecution.”
Tambadou said in most of his public consultations for the past two years on this matter, he always encouraged witnesses to come forward to tell the truth. “Come forward with the truth, potentially benefit from an amnesty or do not come forward with truth and you will face the consequences in terms of prosecution.”
In another development, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice gave assurance that The Gambia would no longer tolerate human rights violations or impunity.
Tambadou was responding to a question regarding last week’s revelation by Amnesty International that there were up to fifteen children in Gambian jails. He denied any knowledge of the issue prior to Amnesty’s revelation.
“My team is working in finding out the circumstances surrounding these concerns expressed by Amnesty on the 15-year-olds and I am hoping to get response from my team by Friday.”
On the issue of alleged arbitrary detention of perceived members of ex-president Jammeh’s jungulars, Tambadou promised to liaise with the police to for updates.
Many members of the security forces accused of being jungulars have been held for more than a year without trial.
Though the minister admitted the prolonged detention was unconstitutional, he said the detainees have been kept due to the atrocities they’ve been linked to.