Week in Review: Gambia, Mali, Tunisia and Iraq

Week in Review: Gambia, Mali, Tunisia and Iraq©UNVisit of a UN Security Council delegation to Mali, October 2017
1 min 59Approximate reading time

Transitional justice is moving forward in Gambia with the setting up of a Truth Commission. 

The Commission’s task will be no less than to “mend the tissue of Gambian society, torn apart by 22 years of iron-fisted rule under ex-dictator Yahya Jammeh”, as our West Africa correspondent Maxime Domegni writes. The victims and their families expect much of this Commission, but they warn there will be no reconciliation without justice. “I often hear people talking about reconciliation, but there can be no talk of reconciliation without truth and justice for our loved ones who were killed,” says Aji Maly Ceesay, whose son Mamute Ceesay was disappeared in 2013 by Jammeh’s secret service.

This phrase could well be spoken by all the victims of wars and dictatorships in transition countries.

In Mali, where the security situation is worsening and divisions are undermining a fragile peace accord, the UN issued a statement underscoring the “pressing need to deliver tangible and visible peace dividends to the population in the north and other parts of Mali in order to preserve the relevance of the Agreement”. In diplomatic language, the UN is urging the government to respect the agreement and notably the electoral calendar. The UN Secretary-General also announced the formation of a commission charged with investigating serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed in Mali since January 2012. “Its conclusions could result in prosecutions by international criminal justice authorities,” writes JusticeInfo.net.

There is justice in Spain too, where for the first time a former top officer from El Salvador, Inocente Montano, is to be held accountable for one of the most infamous massacres during the years of the “dirty wars” in central America: the assassination on November 16, 1989 of 6 Jesuits (of whom 5 Spanish), a Salvadoran cook and her daughter. This will be a landmark trial, says JusticeInfo correspondent François Musseau in Madrid, because “in El Salvador, unlike other countries with a past of repressive dictatorship (e.g. Guatemala, Argentina, Chili), the authorities have not tried to put an end to impunity for the bloody years. In total, only about half a dozen low ranking army members have been prosecuted by the national courts”.

Transitional justice also in Tunisia, where people are working on remembrance of the Revolution. Our correspondent Olfa Belhassine explains how a group of university academics is going to digitalize and archive hours of videos, often amateur, documenting the fall of the regime. “Images have changed the political language, introduced a new type of communication and so a new way of thinking,” project coordinator Rabaâ Ben Achour Abdelkéfi told JusticeInfo.net. In 2018, some of these digitalized archives will be part of an exhibition in Tunis and at the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (MUCEM) in Marseille, France, on the 29 days of revolution that changed Tunisia and heralded the now lost Arab Spring.

Remembrance also in Iraq, where Catholic priest Father Najeeb has saved Christian and Muslim manuscripts that Daech wanted to destroy, sometimes at the risk of his own life. They are part of the history of his country and, he explains, “Man is like a tree and cannot live without his roots”.