A case of reconciliation before all the truth (is known)


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By Ebrima Ceesay, UK

How do you draw the line (or strike the right balance) between moral responsibility and legal obligation? Of course, doing certain things can be legal, having been legislated, but may also be immoral. A case in point is the practice of abortion, which is legal in some countries but also morally unacceptable to most citizens of these countries. Therefore, the TRRC Act might have allowed the reconciliation between Retired Captains Sana Sabally and Edward Singhatey to be held at their offices, but was the timing right, especially coming hard on the heels of Edward’s belligerence and deceitfulness?

You see, at times, there is a very thin line between moral obligation and legal obligation. How should the boundary be drawn between legal obligation and moral responsibility? In short, how do you navigate or strike a good balance between these two positions? At present, walking a very fine line between these two positions have been a challenge to some of the institutions working in post-Jammeh Gambia. It appears that some of these institutions in The Gambia are finding it difficult to know where to draw the line between what is legally acceptable and morally irresponsible. Understanding the connection between the two has not always been easy in the so-called new Gambia and as such, each time these institutions are faced with these kinds of situations, they have tended to do things that are, to be fair, legal and within the law but at the same time, morally repugnant or unacceptable. Going forward, they must tread carefully the narrow line between legal duties and moral responsibility

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Truth-telling is critical to Gambia healing and reconciliation process. Yet, one cannot have reconciliation first without the whole truth being known. The Gambia, over the past two decades, went through multiple traumas. Some of our people went through a great deal of political persecution at the hands of Jammeh and his APRC thugs. Yet, victims and their families have not grieved properly pending closures over the killings of their loved ones. In fact, some of the victims and their families have carried their injuries – emotional and physical – with them for the past two decades. Understandably, therefore, these victims and their families cannot just move on, if their grievances continue to bubble under the surface. This is why Gambians have envisioned the need for truth-telling to be a pre-requisite to Post-Jammeh Gambia’s healing. Therefore, a key objective of the TRRC is to foster durable healing and reconciliation between perpetrators and victims, but only after the whole truth has been known (first). Again, Gambians went through a traumatic experience and as such, there was an urgent need for truth-telling about Gambia’s dark past and its impact on the country now.

Victims, particularly the family of Ousman Koro Ceesay, have continued to be denied their truth by a belligerent and dishonest Edward Singhatey. Yet, the same Edward Singhatey has been allowed to use the premises of TRRC to reconcile with Sana Sabally. Are we not rewarding and encouraging criminality and dishonesty by this kind of reconciliation when all the truth remains unknown? In my view, this is a mockery of the whole TRRC process. Our reconciliation efforts must be grounded in truth and courage and victims can only get closures, if perpetrators like Edward Singhatey and his ilk were willing to engage in challenging and difficult conversations about their dark past. And in these difficult conversations, the perpetrators must be courageous enough to own up – in full – their sinful past. How can you have reconciliation before ‘all the truth’ has come out?

In my view, the TRRC should have told Sana Sabally or whoever initiated the reconciliation between Sabally and Singhatey that they were duty-bound to establish the truth first and then perform any reconciliation afterwards, as was done in the case of other countries, including South Africa. Shockingly, some gullible Gambians are praising the two men, falling for their theatrics and treating them like heroes. Do not be surprised if, in future, many of these Gambians were to embrace Jammeh again. There is overwhelming evidence that Edward was at Yankuba Touray’s house, the night of the crime, yet at his TRRC appearance, Singhatey was clearly lying through his teeth, sending Gambians out on a wild goose chase by insinuating that Ousman Koro Ceesay could have been killed by the MFDC rebels or the Senegalese secret agents. Lead Counsel Essa Faal also never asked Edward, in unequivocal terms, to say who he (Edward) thought was responsible for the murder of Koro Ceesay if he (Edward) was not involved.

Upon hearing Edward’s version, I contacted a former Senegalese Interior Minister to seek his opinion on Edward’s wild theory that there could have been foul play involving the MFDC rebels or the Senegalese secret agents in Koro’s death. The ex-Minister came back to me earlier this afternoon and stated Edward’s theory, although exciting, was full of red herrings and only intended to be distracting. Edward only used the Casamance theory as a subterfuge to mislead and divert attentions from his horrible crimes. The ex-minister Senegalese made one important observation. He pointed out to me that knowing Jammeh and the contempt he had for respective Senegalese governments, if his Finance Minister was killed by Senegalese – be they MFDC rebels or the Senegalese secret agents – the whole world would have heard or known about it by now. Jammeh would have slaughtered, metaphorically speaking, the Senegalese government by way of verbal assault and public diplomacy.

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