By Bekai Njie
Commissioners and senior staff of the TRRC held a three-day working meeting to prepare for the start of hearings on January 7, 2019. The meeting was held in the Commission’s conference room at Dunes Resort, Kololi from December 10 to 12, 2018.
During the three-day intensive meeting, and in line with the provisions of Section 21 of the TRRC Act, 2017, the TRRC Legal Team in collaboration with the Research and Investigations Unit guided Commissioners on the development of Rules of Procedure for the Commission. In particular, the Legal Team guided the Commission’s conversations on Complaints Procedure, Admissibility of Complaints, Conduct of Investigations, and Conduct of Hearings. At the end of the meeting, a broad outline of Rules of Procedure was agreed upon and is being currently drafted by the Legal Team for final adoption by the Commissioners.
In line with the provisions of Section 18 of the TRRC Act, 2017, a number of subsidiary committees were also established during the three-day meeting. The committees set up were the Human Rights Violations Committee, Amnesty Committee, Reparations Committee, Child Protection and Sexual and Gender-based Violence Committee, and Reconciliation Committee. All but one of these committees has five commissioners on it; one has six members. All commissioners sit on at least two of the committees. Each committee will meet at least once before January 7 to develop their specific terms of reference in line with the provisions of the TRRC Act.
An outline of a 12-month work plan for the Commission was also developed and is being drafted. This plan indicates the number of possible hearings to be conducted during 2019, the specific areas of focus for these hearings, and will include a number of projected outreach activities for the year 2019.
Meanwhile, the TRRC is calling on all Victims of Human Rights Violations during 1994 to come to the TRRC Headquarters at Dunes Resort, Kololi and share their statements. If they are unable to come to the TRRC Headquarters, they may call 9348929 or 2949170 and arrangements will be made to take their statements. Anyone that has any information on 1994 Human Rights Violations that will be helpful to the TRRC is also encouraged to come to their offices or call their offices’ two numbers. Victims or witnesses who wish to provide statements or other information related to 1994 violations are advised to do so as soon as possible in order not to miss the opportunity of doing so once the research and investigations focus moves away from 1994. The officewill be sharing more phone numbers with the public and conducting outreach exercises to reach out to those who cannot call or come to the TRRC headquarters. The public is hereby informed that giving statements to the TRRC is free of charge to all victims and witnesses.
At this time, hearings-related logistics are being finalized at the TRRC headquarters. The main hall is being fitted with the necessary audio-visual equipment and witness protection mechanisms. Two-day runs of this equipment are planned before the start of hearings on January 7. The public is hereby informed that all public hearings of the TRRC are free and open to the public. Media accreditation will be issued to two journalists from each media house that has attended one or more of the five transitional justice trainings for journalists conducted over the past several months.
Again, the TRRC seeks the nation’s support and blessings as they all embark upon that challenging task of truth seeking, justice, and healing this New Year.