The Government of The Gambia through its National Assembly has enacted the following three Acts as part of its transitional justice programme:
It is imperative for The Gambia to carry out a thorough investigation of the human rights violations and abuses of the past 22 years. It is important to have an accurate and impartial historical record of the violations, document them for posterity to ensure that "never again" do we encounter a reoccurrence of such abuses. The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission Act (TRRC), which was enacted by the National Assembly in December, establishes a non-judicial mechanism for the investigation of violations and abuses of human rights in The Gambia between July 1994 and January 2017, in order to promote healing and reconciliation, respond to the need of victims, address impunity and prevent a repetition of the violations and abuses suffered. Victims of human rights violations have a right to reparations as recognized under international law and Laws of The Gambia. This Act reinforces the right not only to grant reparations but also restore the civil rights and dignity of victims. The TRRC is envisaged to be an important vehicle for large-scale institutional, legal and administrative reforms in The Gambia. At the end of its operations, the Commission shall submit a report to the President of the Republic. The report will contain the findings and recommendations of the Commission, which are expected to strengthen and consolidate our burgeoning democracy.
Under the AFPRC government, a new constitution was drafted and approved in a referendum in August 1996, which ushered in the 2nd Republic with the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia. During the two decades since the adoption of the 1997 Constitution, there have been numerous amendments to the Constitution to the point of abuse. Provisions that have been carefully drafted in the 1997 Constitution to create proper checks and balances between the different arms of the Gambian State were deliberately and systematically eroded or completely removed resulting in weakened institutions and undermining democratic governance. Constitutional amendments were often intended to satisfy or achieve the parochial interests of an individual. Thus, the 1997 Constitution no longer protected the fundamental rights of the citizenry in the manner envisaged by the drafters. While proposals have been made to amend certain aspects of the Constitution, it is thought that overall, the strategic objective of a return to sustainable democracy, would require the drafting of a new Constitution. Based on the foregoing, the Act intends to establish a Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) to guide the whole process of a new Republican Constitution that will usher in a Third Republic.
The National Human Rights Commission Act, which was established in December, establishes a Commission for the promotion and protection of human rights in The Gambia. The Gambia is a party to all the major human rights treaties including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It is important to establish an independent National Human Rights Commission as part of the Government's commitment to promote, protect and defend the inalienable rights of the citizenry and other people living in The Gambia. The establishment of a National Human Rights Commission is crucial to ensure compliance with all the human rights treaties to which The Gambia is a party. Moreover The Gambia is the home of the continental human rights enforcement body, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) as well as the pan-African NGO, the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS). As such, it is essential for The Gambia to follow the best practice in upholding high human rights standards through the establishment of a specialised body to deal with human rights promotion and enforcement.