The Permanent Mission of Canada, the Permanent Mission of The Gambia and Justice Rapid Response will hold an event on the importance of supporting national mechanisms in achieving accountability for international crimes and serious human rights violations. Through the provision of highly specialized expertise to work with local counterparts, national actors are better able and empowered to design and implement credible, thorough investigations.
As a case study of collaboration, this event will focus on The Gambia, where national authorities are implementing justice measures to address crimes committed under the regime of former President Yahya Jammeh, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, rape, and torture. Justice Rapid Response (JRR) has provided ongoing forensic expertise—including experts from countries that have themselves gone through transition—to support national authorities in The Gambia with the investigations and prosecutions of high-profile cases.
This event at the United Nations will be an occasion to illuminate the critical contributions of the JRR forensic experts during this mission in The Gambia and more generally, will highlight the importance of having access to trained experts who can provide technical assistance in order to achieve credible accountability processes. The panel seeks to engage UN Member States, civil society, justice practitioners and the UN community in a dialogue about the impact of tailored support to national authorities as part of an effort to end impunity, build strong institutions and foster peace. It is also an occasion for participants to reflect on progress made towards Sustainable Development Goal 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions).
- H. E. Mr. Marc-André Blanchard, Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations;
- H. E. Mr. Lang Yabou, Permanent Representative of The Gambian Mission to the United Nations;
- Ms. Nina Suomalainen, Executive Director, Justice Rapid Response;
- Mr. Abubacarr M. Tambadou, Attorney General of The Gambia;
- Dr. Samuel Ferreira, Forensic Expert, and recently deployed to The Gambia by JRR;
- Ms. Nana-Jo N’Dow, Executive Director, African Network against Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances (ANEKED)
- Moderator: Ms. Hannah Dunphy, Communications & External Relations, Justice Rapid Response.
After welcoming remarks from the sponsors, the event will begin with the screening of a short documentary film created by JRR, titled “From Fear to Freedom: The Search for Justice in The Gambia” which conveys the work and impact of JRR experts who have deployed to work with national actors for justice in The Gambia. Through the film, the audience will also hear from a select number of victims and survivors of the Jammeh rule who reflect on the significance of justice in their lives and for their country. This will be followed by an interactive discussion on the film and its underlying themes, including the role of and challenges faced by national efforts for accountability of international crimes and the importance of specialized technical expertise.
In January 2017, the Republic of The Gambia emerged from decades of dictatorship. The new government soon initiated a transitional justice process to deal with the past serious human rights violations and crimes alleged to have taken place in the country under the regime of former President Yahya Jammeh. In early 2018, the Ministry of Justice invited JRR to identify areas where JRR Roster expertise, through a mentoring approach, could meaningfully contribute to the work of various accountability actors. One of the urgent needs identified was specifically in the area of forensic sciences which required the rapid deployment of experts to provide technical assistance. In this particular case, the prosecution needed crucial physical evidence but had the challenge of limited technical and forensic capacity, limiting the options for local investigators to excavate, exhume and identify remains. The case was also considered highly complex due to the advanced state of decomposition of the remains which had been exhumed more than a year before the request.
Space is limited. Please arrive early to ensure your seat.