A sitting of the TRRC into the Jammeh era human rights violations

“Truth-telling” is paramount in the quest for healing and restorative justice, particularly against the backdrop of silenced historical harm. What does truth-telling mean? 

Healing is long, slow work. But if we start with authentic truth-telling and engage in an inclusive search for solutions, we can begin to transform relationships and move step-by-step down the path to reconciliation.  Truth-telling encounters between those who have caused harm and those who have been harmed can promote accountability, address the needs of everyone affected, and lay a foundation for reconciliation, justice, and transformed social structures.

Truth Commissions opened dialogue and increased trust. Some of those who are responsible for the violence apologized to their victims. Truth and reconciliation processes hold special promise for addressing epidemic of violence, exposing its deep historical roots, and working toward reconciliation.

Truth-telling encounters between those who have caused harm and those who have been harmed can promote accountability, address the needs of everyone affected, and lay a foundation for reconciliation, justice, and transformed social structures.

Some Gambians think that restorative justice can only address interpersonal harm—and it’s very successful in that. But the truth and reconciliation model are one that’s supposed to address mass harm—to heal the wounds of structural violence. We’ve seen that at work in about 40 different nations; the most well-known is, of course, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

In South Africa, the commission invited victims of apartheid to testify, and, for the first time ever, they told their stories publicly. It was on all the radio stations, in all the newspapers, it was all over the television, so people would come home and tune in and learn things about apartheid that they had never known before. There was an intense national discussion going on, and people who were harmed felt vindicated in some way.

This is the kind of thing happening here, also, through a truth and reconciliation process. In addition to that sort of hearing commission structure, there could be circles happening on the local levels—circles between, say, persons who were victims of violence and the persons who caused them harm.

By Alagi Yorro Jallow 

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