The Africa Group for Justice and Accountability’s successful mission to The Gambia

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The Africa Group for Justice and Accountability and the Wayamo Foundation Send Successful Mission to The Gambia

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From 31 October to 3 November 2017, the Africa Group for Justice and Accountability (AGJA) and the Wayamo Foundation sent a fact-finding delegation to The Gambia. The delegation arrived in The Gambia in response to an invitation by Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou. Its aim was to understand the nature of The Gambia’s ongoing transition from authoritarian rule under former President Yahya Jammeh to democracy and the rule of law. Over a series of broad consultations with key stakeholders in the transitional process, the delegation sought to understand the challenges and priorities regarding the achievement of justice and accountability in the country. The delegation was led by former Chief Justice of Tanzania, Mohamed Chande Othman and included human rights advocate Fatiha Serour (Algeria) and Wayamo Foundation Deputy Director Mark Kersten (Canada).

“During our visit, we witnessed a visible and determined commitment by Gambian authorities and civil society organisations to deliver marked change during this transitional process,” stated Othman. “While the primary responsibility for a new rebuild of national institutions and the setting of socio-development and law enforcement priorities belongs to The Gambia and its people, the international community and other partners have a critical role in assisting in this processes. The Africa Group stands ready to do its part.”

Over four days, the delegation held productive meetings with the Vice President, Minister of Justice, Foreign Minister, the Inspector General of the Police, the Speaker of the National Assembly, members of the National Assembly, the United Nations Development Programme, the embassies of the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union, the Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, the Student Union of the University of The Gambia, and the Press Union of The Gambia. It also held a public event at the Law Faculty of the University of The Gambia with 250 guests, entitled “The Gambia in Transition — Lessons and Examples from Abroad”. The delegation was described by senior officials as the most thorough consultation sent to The Gambia to date.

After twenty-two years under the rule of Jammeh, the remarkable potential as well as the immense challenges facing The Gambia were clear to all members of the delegation. In the wake of the delegation’s consultations with key stakeholders, the AGJA and the Wayamo Foundation will consider how to move forward in offering a programme of training and capacity-building exercises relating to justice and accountability efforts for human rights violations and international crimes in the country.

Both the AGJA and the Wayamo Foundation reaffirm their commitment and ongoing interest in working with officials in The Gambia to help ensure that justice and accountability for the survivors and victims of human rights abuses and international crimes is achieved.