43 Witnesses Testifies Before TRRC.
Forty-three witnesses have so far testified before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission’s (TRRC) sittings since it started hearings of witnesses’ testimony on January 7, 2019, at Dunes Hotel in Kotu.
Dr. Lamin J. Sise, chairman of TRRC made this revelation in his statement at the opening of the TRRC’s fourth session of hearings yesterday, 8th of April, 2019.
The chairman said after concluding the third session of the Commission’s hearing, 43 witnesses have appeared before the said Commission including seven female witnesses, military officers and two sitting civilian ambassadors.
He also said the third hearing focused mainly on the November 11 and Koro Ceesay incidents, but testimonies were also heard concerning circumstances surrounding the July 22nd, 1994 coup.
He revealed that the Commission heard testimonies suggesting a swift disillusionment within the ranks of the July 22nd coup makers that culminated in the tragic events of November 11, 1994.
He stressed that the need to adhere to the rule of law under all circumstances will certainly be a key component of the TRRC’s interim and final recommendations.
He noted that the third session saw the welcome appearance of seven female witnesses before the Commission, whilst five of the witnesses testified in person, whilst two of them testified via video conferencing from the United States and the United Kingdom.
The Commission chairman further noted that these courageous women were able to share their painful experiences with the general public, and also to give the Commission their helpful side of the July 22 and November 11 stories.
He assured the women and their families that the TRRC values their contribution to its work whilst pointing out that TRRC will do everything in its powers to ensure that they get the justice, healing and reparations where appropriate, as mandated by the Act establishing the TRRC.
He noted that the TRRC hearings have generated widespread interest and are being followed by a large number of Gambians and the international community, adding that the testimonies that have emanated from the witnesses are being revealing a history of injustice and human rights violations that many did not think was possible in the Gambian society.
Dr. Sise averred that most of the hearings during the third session have helped the Commission to build a fuller picture of the circumstances surrounding the July 22nd 1994 coup, in particular, the testimonies have thrown much needed light on the institutional failures, policy lapses, and poor judgment.
Dr. Sise stated that the Commission’s work plan for the fourth session includes the possibility of hearing testimonies from persons who have been adversely mentioned by witnesses since the hearings began on 7 January, 2019.
He further stated that the Commission is expected to hear more testimonies on the November 11 and Koro Ceesay incidents, adding that all persons who have so far been adversely mentioned have been or will soon be served with notices of adverse mention.
He said some of the individuals will be invited to appear before the Commission and if necessary, subpoenaed to do so.
He pointed out that the fourth session will be close to the beginning of the month of Ramadan, during which the Commission will suspend hearings, adding that committee work, investigations, outreach and other important activities will continue during the month of Ramadan.
He craved the public continued support, understanding and prayers whilst assuring the public of the commission’s resolute in its determination to execute and fulfill its mandate to the best of its ability and ultimately to assist the Gambia on this difficult path to justice, healing, and reconciliation.