By: Pa Nderry M’Bai,
The Executive Secretary of Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparation Commission Baba Galleh Jallow said folks jailed by the United States Justice System, will not be denied employment at the TRC, because in his own words: “ Well, that criminal history is American criminal history. It is not a Gambian criminal history. He was not convicted in The Gambia. Alhagie is not a serial murderer. And Gambian laws are not American laws. American laws are not Gambian laws. You want us to be ruled and administered by American laws in the Gambia?”
Mr. Jallow has defended the appointment of Alagie Barrow, who was recently hired to head the TRC’s Research and Investigation Department. Barrow was jailed in 2016 together with four Gambian naturalized US Citizens by a Federal court in the United States on treason charges. He was part of a failed coup, which left three of the mutineers dead, and one captured. The incident happened in December of 2014. Dictator Yahya Jammeh was out of town when the attack occurred.
Speaking in an interview with Freedom Newspaper, Dr. Baba Galleh Jallow, admitted that Barrow is his friend, but he denied favoring him during the interview process.
“ The interview panel is consisting of four people and there is myself; there is a representative of the International Center for Transitional Justice, who is working here under transitional justice team; there is a lawyer; and there is my assistance. So, a lot of the people we interviewed are known to me, and I see no reason why I shouldn’t interview him if he applies for a job,” Jallow remarked.
Dr. Jallow spent many years in exile in the United States. His Newspaper, the Independent was fire bombarded by dictator Jammeh’s agents before it was shut down by the state.
Dr. Jallow suffered persecution under Jammeh’s rule. Both him and his parents were threatened with possible deportation to Guinea Conakry, as the exiled Gambian dictator uses his Immigration agents to investigate their Gambian Citizenship. The investigations were later aborted.
One of the people named in the State House attack Banka Manneh, spent six months in jail. Prior to serving time in Federal Facility for his involvement in the failed coup, Manneh appeared on Freedom Radio, in the aftermath of the attack threatening that if the coup is not executed by their collaborators in The Gambia, he was going to expose their names. Over 60 members of Gambia’s Armed Forces were reported to have been complicit in the coup.
Dr. Jallow said Barrow’s appointment will not impact on the credibility of the Commission. He said Barrow will instead enhance the credibility of the Commission—given what he called his rich educational background and past military career.
“We are not interested in what happened as far as their conspiracy with others is concerned. We did our checks; we did our study; we recognized according to The Gambian Constitution, that Barrow did not commit a crime because every citizen, has a right to remove a Government that does not respect their Constitution. So, as far as we are concerned, Barrow did not commit any crime and he is the best candidate for the job,” he said.
Jallow said Mr. Barrow’s past felony record in the US, was not a concern to the TRC. He said The Gambia, has its own laws and as far as he is concerned, Barrow acted in line with the Constitution to wage an armed attack against the former Gambian government.
“I am not legitimizing anything. I think their actions were within the confines of The Gambian Constitution. And the right to insurrection is in every Constitution and if a Government is abrogating the Constitution of that country, their citizens have a right to rise up in arms if necessary. That is what happened in the American revolution; it happens in South Africa; it happens in the French revolution. I am not legitimizing anything. We called for applications; he was one of the applicants; he stood out and we employed him,” Dr. Jallow told me.
“Let people say what they want. I am not biased; my consent is clear; I am not fearing people accusing me, of being corrupt because I am not; I have never been; they know it. I am not trying to reconcile anything. I am done, and I am going to do what I think is right for the Commission and people have their opinions and they can express their opinions freely,” he added.
Former Secretary General and Presidential Affairs Minister Momodou Sabally, is among those opposed to the appointment Alagie Barrow. Sabally contends that Barrow’s past criminal history, disqualifies him to be hired at the TRC. He also said Barrow might resort to targeting folks, he is aggrieved with in the former administration—given his involvement in the December 30th failed coup.
Mr. Sabally said both Baba Galleh Jallow and Alagie Barrow are not fit to serve in the TRC—given their past history with the previous regime. He told Freedom Radio Gambia, that Dr. Jallow, was exiled by the dictator, and therefore, it would be wronged for Jallow to be part of any investigations to hold Jammeh accountable for his alleged crimes.
“Well, that is his opinion; that is not my opinion and that of course is known to everyone before I was appointed. You were a victim; Bishop Desmond Tutu, was a victim of the Apartheid regime; Nelson Mandela was a victim of the Apartheid regime and they did not recuse themselves from their roles as President and Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa, for that reason. Mr. Sabally knows me very well and he has a right to his opinion and I respect it. And I am not going to resign just because he said, I should,” Dr. Jallow concluded.