Gambia: Justice Minister recommends release of three ‘junglers’

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Abubacar Ba Tambadou, the attorney general and minister of Justice has recommended  for the army to release the three members of the ‘jungler’ – a ‘patrol team’ who testified before the TRRC.

At a press briefing held at his ministry yesterday 5 August, 2019, the minister said the idea has evoked strong emotions among some victims and concerned members of the public, pointing out that the reaction is quite understandable putting into account the revelations the three men have made at the TRRC about some of their activities under former President Jammeh.

“Let me clarify from the onset, that the recommendation to release the three men is not an amnesty as some claim. That is totally false,” he explained. “It is only the TRRC that can recommend amnesty in appropriate cases. At this point, the objective of the release is to put the three men in a similar situation as those who have appeared at the TRRC and admitted to participating in human rights violations and abuses.”

“As you well know, none of them is currently in custody and rightly so. The TRRC is not a court of law and one of its primary objectives is to establish the truth in exchange for amnesty and the promotion of healing and national reconciliation.”

“We must always remember that in our quest for justice, we must also not perpetrate or perpetuate injustice even if that is the popular thing to do.”

Justice minister further noted that “we must endeavour to respect the rights of all persons no matter how repulsive we feel about their conduct,” adding that we must not do to others; acts which we have ourselves condemned in the past.

He explained that keeping the three “junglers” in custody, like they have done over the past two and half years, would have been the easiest option “but that too has serious implications for our New Gambia not least because they are being detained for this period without trial.”

“While we all agree that the “junglers” are a special category of alleged perpetrators, the reason they have been the only ones in custody all this time, we cannot also afford to treat similarly situated persons differently,” he pointed out.

He noted that they cannot treat one group of confessed perpetrators any different from another group, saying all those who assist the TRRC to establish the truth shall and should be treated the same way.

“Neither can we charge anyone including the three men with any crimes at this moment because the TRRC has been mandated to identify for prosecution only those who bear the greatest responsibility for the human rights violations and abuses.”

The Justice minister further stated that they could not pre-empt the work of the TRRC by taking action against anyone at this stage and therefore urged people to suspend judgment and give truth a chance because without the whole truth, “we will not achieve our immediate and long term objectives of forgiveness, reconciliation and accountability.”

Author: Cherno Omar Bobb


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