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GAMBIA: A BILL TO PUNISH THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES HAS BEEN INTRODUCED BY THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE

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On Monday, April 22, 2024, Honourable Dawda A. Jallow, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, introduced two important measures that aim to prosecute those responsible for human rights violations as determined by the TRRC.

During the National Assembly’s first special session of the 2024 legislative year, the Special Prosecutor Office Bill and the Special Accountability Mechanism (TRRC) Bill, the proposed legislation, were submitted. Under a certificate of urgency, President Adama Barrow accelerated the process and urged lawmakers to consider the proposals.

According to the TRRC, the Special Accountability Mechanism (TRRC) Bill, 2024, aims to establish a thorough legal framework for the prosecution of individuals charged with serious human rights violations that occurred between 1994 and 2017.

Simultaneously, the Special Prosecutor Office Bill, 2024 seeks to establish a Special Prosecutor’s Office tasked with looking into and bringing cases related to grave human rights breaches that were noted in the TRRC’s conclusions from the same time frame.

As Minister Jallow introduced the measures, he explained their rationale and goals. He clarified that a system comprising the Special Prosecutor’s Office, a Special Tribunal resembling international courts, and a special Criminal Division within the High Court is established by the Special Accountability Mechanism (TRRC) Bill, 2024.

He underlined that the bill’s goal is to preserve a Gambian-centric approach while utilising both regional and international knowledge. In order to do this, a combination of international and Gambian judges, prosecutors, and personnel will be hired, with a preference for Gambians.

The unique responsibility The process outlined in this bill seeks to be as Gambian-driven as feasible while simultaneously utilising support and experience from the regional and international arenas. He stated that in order to accomplish this, a mix of Gambian and non-Gambian judges, prosecutors, experts, and personnel will be hired, with a preference for Gambians.

Minister Jallow also described the Special Prosecutor Office Bill 2024’s appointment procedure, emphasising the President’s role in the choice process which is based on panel recommendations.

He confirmed that the measure clearly outlines the jurisdiction of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, enabling it to investigate human rights abuses in the manner outlined in the TRRC report.

Additionally, Minister Jallow emphasised the bill’s clauses outlining the duties and authority of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, emphasising the office’s independence, impartiality, and discretionary powers in carrying out investigations and prosecutions. The bill makes ensuring the Special Prosecutor follows impartiality and independence standards.

The measure also describes the duties and authority of the office of the special prosecutor, emphasising the office’s neutrality, independence, and prosecutorial discretion. He emphasised that the special prosecutor “has broad authority, guided by principles of fairness, impartiality, and independence.”

Furthermore, he emphasised that the bill contains provisions for the Special Prosecutor’s removal, protection, and immunity in addition to provisions for succession, data protection, confidentiality, compliance, training, non-disclosure agreements, and offences related to the office, all of which are meant to ensure the office’s effective and moral operation.

The Speaker of the National Assembly, FaBakary Tombong Jatta, encouraged members to participate in a discussion on the general merits and tenets of the proposed law after the bills were introduced.

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