The Gambia will set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate abuses committed during ex-President Yahya Jammeh's rule, the justice minister has said. The finances of Mr. Jammeh would also be investigated, Abubacarr Tambadou added. 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 $11m (£8.8m) went missing from The Gambia's state coffers following Mr. Jammeh's departure in January. He fled to Equatorial Guinea in January after regional troops entered the tiny West African state to force him to accept defeat to property developer Adama Barrow in elections the previous month.
"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," Mr. Tambadou said in a statement. Former intelligence chief Yankuba Badjie was arrested in January, making him the first of Mr. Jammeh's security officials to be taken into custody by the new government. No official reason was given for his arrest.
Five notorious cases for The Gambia's TRC:
- Opposition member Solo Sandeng allegedly beaten to death in detention in April 2016
- Journalist Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay allegedly forced to drink cooking oil and beaten unconsciousness in detention in July 2015
- Ex-army chief of staff Ndure Cham allegedly ordered to dig his grave and shot dead in 2013 for plotting coup
- Journalist Ebrima Manneh missing since he left his newsroom on July 2006
- Newspaper editor Deyda Hydara shot dead in his car in December 2004
After his election victory, Mr. 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 Mr. 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. It denied the allegation, insisting that it upheld the law.