The Gambia’s justice minister, Abubacarr Tambadou, has announced the setting up of a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ to investigate abuses committed during the reign of former President Yahya Jammeh as well as to investigate the finances of the ex-leader.
Tambadou said that people would be encouraged to confess to crimes, and victims would be offered compensation, he said.
The former regime was accused of widespread torture and enforced disappearances during its 22-year rule.
There were also unconfirmed allegations that more than $11 million went missing from The Gambia’s state coffers following Jammeh’s departure in January.
The ex-president fled to Equatorial Guinea in January after regional troops entered the tiny West African state to force him to concede defeat to Adama Barrow who had won the December 2016 Presidential election held in the country.
“A Truth and Reconciliation Commission with appropriate reparations for victims will be set up within the next six months and public hearings will be expected to commence by the end of the year,” Justice Minister Tambadou said in a statement.
Former intelligence chief Yankuba Badjie was arrested in January, making him the first of Jammeh’s security officials to be taken into custody by the new government. No official reason was given for his arrest.
After his election victory, President Barrow pledged that his government would not seek vengeance against officials of the former regime, and would instead set up a South Africa-styled Truth and Reconciliation Commission to heal wounds of the past.
In a 2015 report, campaign group Human Rights Watch said Jammeh’s regime “frequently committed serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, and torture against those who voiced opposition.”
Torture methods included the “electroshock of body parts, including genitals and dripping melted plastic bags onto the skin”, it said.
The regime relied heavily on its intelligence agency to target opponents,and was also accused of running paramilitary hit squads.
Jammeh has consistently denied the allegations, insisting that his administration upheld the law.