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Anxiety runs high as The Gambia confronts dictator’s crimes

The Gambia’s new Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission will examine human-rights violations under former President Yahya Jammeh, who left office last year after being voted out.

Under Jammeh, who ruled in a dictatorship for 22 years, torture and executions were common, as were disappearances and sexual violence.

Victims, witnesses and perpetrators will start testifying before the 11-member commission by the end of October.

The commission can recommend financial compensation and advise prosecution of perpetrators.

The commission includes four women, and represents the five main ethnic groups, two main religions, and all major regions of the small country.

However, there are still supporters of Jammeh, which may add tension to the proceedings.

It is also unclear if Jammeh himself will be brought to testify.

He fled to Equatorial Guinea following the 2017 elections, after which several regional countries had to intervene to ensure he would abide by the vote and step down.

Marta Colomer of Amnesty International told Agence France Presse that the commission’s first task should be to ensure “people from all over the country fully understand its mandate and missions. This will be key to managing the victims’ expectations. They suffered terrible human-rights violations for many years and some of them have really high expectations of what the [commission] will be doing for them.”

Sources: News24 (South Africa), BBC News, Africa News

Heather Bourbeau

Heather Bourbeau’s reporting has appeared in The Economist and The Financial Times. She was a political affairs officer for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Liberia, and a special rapporteur for UNICEF Somalia.
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