Gambia has launched a truth and reconciliation commission to look into crimes committed under former President Yahya Jammeh’s government, which is accused of torturing and killing perceived opponents.
The tiny West African state swore in 11 members of the new commission Monday.
President Adama Barrow said in a post on Twitter: “Let us stand together to say: ‘Never again shall a few people oppress us as a nation. Never again shall the beautiful Smiling Coast experience a tyranny of the minority against the majority.'”
Victims, witnesses and alleged perpetrators of crimes are set to start testifying to the commission later this month. The process is expected to take around two years.
Jammeh ruled Gambia for 22 years after seizing power in a 1994 coup. He fled into exile in Equatorial Guinea in January 2017 after losing an election to current President Barrow. Jammeh initially did not accept the electoral result, but later stepped down following pressure from regional leaders.
Jammeh’s government is accused of carrying out executions, disappearances, torture, rape and other crimes during its more than two decades in power.
Other African nations have held truth and reconciliation commissions, with the most well known being in South Africa following the end of apartheid in 1994. The commissions encourage people to confess past crimes and allow victims to speak out against crimes committed against them in a public forum.
Gambia’s truth and reconciliation commission will have the power to advise on who should be prosecuted and recommend financial compensation to victims.