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 Justice Rapid Response to identify areas where specialized 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.
Three forensic experts from Justice Rapid Response were deployed during the summer of 2018. Our film “From Fear to Freedom: The Search for Justice in The Gambia” tells the story of why forensic expertise was needed, how Justice Rapid Response assisted, and presents the views of those involved in the ongoing transitional justice process.