VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS
A VICTIM CENTRED APPROACH
A victim centred approach means we put the dignity and wellbeing of victims first.
The TRRC operations and objectives are guided by the right to accountability and redress for victims. Through our efforts, we aim to renew a civic commitment to rule of law and ensure this country will never again be a place unsafe for its citizens.
OUR COMMITMENT TO VICTIMS & SURVIVORS
Commonly adopted to truth seeking could have negative impacts on Gambian communities. Our villages are tightly interwoven. In this context, speaking openly about the past experiences may sow discord in small, interrelated communities.
It is not an option to silence victims who wish to speak or to hide from the truth out of fear. The TRRC must innovate new approaches to truth seeking work that will allow Gambians to speak freely about human rights violations without damaging the social fabric of tightknit communities. the TRRC is committed to finding solutions that will allow victims to share their stories without undue risk.
The TRRC will do everything possible to ensure safe and supportive spaces are available for the full participation of all citizens, with special emphasis on the importance of the active participation of victims in our planning and operations. The Commission will take special measures to ensure the safety, anonymity and confidentiality of informants, especially when children are involved. If there is a likelihood that the life or the property of a victim or witness is in danger, the TRRC may act within its capacities to help safeguard the individual and his or her property.
Of particular note, every available precaution will be taken to ensure the safety and well-being of survivors of sexual abuse, gender-based violence and other vulnerable groups. This includes survivors of Jammeh’s forced HIV treatments who risk stigmatization should their experiences be made public in unsupportive forums.
Who is considered a victim at the TRRC?
In his guidelines for transitional justice, the Attorney General defines victims as:
Persons who individually or collectively suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that constitute gross violations of international human rights law, or serious violations of international humanitarian law. Where appropriate, and in accordance with domestic law, the term “victim” also includes the immediate family or dependants of the direct victim and persons who have suffered harm in intervening to assist victims in distress or to prevent victimisation.
The Declaration of the Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power defines victims as: persons who individually or collectively, have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts that are in violation of criminal laws operative within members states, including those laws proscribing criminal abuse of power.
The Rome Statute, a document that defines the work of the International Criminal Court says the following:
“Victims” means natural persons who have suffered harm as a result of the commission of any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;
Victims may include organizations or institutions that have sustained direct harm to any of their property, which is dedicated to religion, education, art, or science or charitable purposes, and to their historic monuments, hospitals and other places and objects for humanitarian purposes.
Truth seeking in close-knit communities may pose safety risks to victim. We are committed to mitigating the risk of stigma or rejection that many victims face when speaking out about their experiences, especially those who have suffered sexual and gender-based violence. The TRRC will work closely with the Victims’ Center, social workers and, if appropriate, with security services to help keep all citizens safe.
The TRRC mandate ensures that victims and witnesses will be provided with appropriate emotional support. There are not sufficient numbers of people specially trained therapists to address widespread trauma in The Gambia. Nevertheless, TRRC will work with on local NGOs and trusted community members to help us identify social workers, trusted community members and traditional and religious leaders.
The TRRC welcomes partnership with communities, citizens, religious and traditional leaders and community leaders in their reconciliation initiatives. We support reconciliation where this process is inclusive and offers opportunities for victims to feel integrated and heard . We will strive to make resources accessible to the victims and their communities to help promote reconciliation and memorialization.
Reparations provide victims with a material or symbolic form of recognition that should acknowledge the harms suffered and seek to repair that suffering in a meaningful way. According to the UN Basic Principles on the Right to a Remedy, reparations should be provided by the state to victims for grave human rights violations committed by the state or for failures of the state to protection its citizens these serious violations.
The victim community are invited to participate in dialogue with the TRRC. Beyond the investigative role of the Commission, the TRRC is a place for victims to have their expectations and recommendations heard. The TRRC will with engage civil society actors to expand the reach of its outreach efforts with the victims’ community and to ensure we are as inclusive as possible in our work.
Ongoing consultation with the TRRC is a right of victims and a responsibility of the commission.
Many aspects of TRRC operations and outcomes will have a profound impact on the lives of victims and their loved one. In our commitment to a victim centred approach, we are committed to ensuring the perspectives and expectations of the victim community are given full consideration in decision making.