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Vi vil hjælpe Gambias sandheds- og forsoningsproces

  • May 13, 2019
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Gambia tog i år fat på sit arbejde med at afdække sandhederne om, hvad Jammehs 22 år lange diktatur egentlig gjorde ved landet og menneskene – og med at komme videre herfra

Af Lars Møller

I februar var jeg på opgave i Gambia, bl.a. for at udvikle nye projekter sammen med partnerne. Et problem, vi ret hurtigt tog fat på i MAJaC, var, at medierne ikke var klædt ordentligt på til at dække arbejdet i landets nye kommission for sandhed, forsoning og erstatning af de skader, som diktaturet forårsagede.

Den nye “Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission” (TRRC) havde netop afholdt sine første høringer, hvor mange følsomme fortællinger kom frem – og som af mange medier blev formidlet videre ukritisk og ukommenteret, eller måske endnu værre: sensationelt og fragmentarisk.

Vi lavede i hast en projektbeskrivelse for træning af medier og journalister – som så siden kom til at ligge i et tomrum mellem MAJaC, GPU og måske også andre aktører som UNDP og kommissionen selv. Men projektet er spændende, det er vigtigt, og Demba arbejder videre med det.

Læs selv uddrag fra projektbeskrivelsen – eller se mere på TRRCs Facebook-side, hvor de også har lagt høringer ud (www.facebook.com/moj.trrc/)

Sound editorial judgements
This intervention is intended to train journalists on their coverage of the hearings of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) – testimonies of survivors of human rights violations and those alleged to have committed those human rights atrocities.

At the end of this intervention journalists and their media organisations would be able to report both effectively and comprehensive by explaining the news, analysing and giving background context to the testimonies for a better-informed society.

They would also be able to make sound editorial judgements on what to publish or not to publish regarding the sensitive nature of the information and are able to use the right language in describing survivors and those alleged to have committed crimes against these survivors.

Avoid sensationalising

The intervention will remind the media of the need to take editorial responsibilities in reporting on the TRRC – and to report fairly and objectively to avoid sensationalising information that could bring thoughts of revenge to the relatives of victims or put the lives of alleged perpetrators at risk.

It addresses the media’s potential harm to the victims and alleged perpetrators and encourages a critical and analytical coverage that will not promote the language of hate or tempt people to react in a manner that will affect the peace in the country and the reconciliation process of the TRRC.

Some of the testimonies given are graphic and disturbing (as one witness claims that while in detention his flesh was being peeled off by government security agents like how an orange is peeled with a knife and forced to roll on broken pieces of bottles after his skin was peeled off).    

This intervention is also important as it is the first to tackle the lack of training of journalists on how to cover the TRRC hearings. Trainings conducted by the TRRC for journalists prior to the hearings in January 2019 only focused on participants having a broad understanding of the setup and mandate of the TRRC and how other truth commissions around the world were setup and the approaches they took.

A series of transitional justice programmes

Gambians voted in a new president in December 2016. The new government promises broad structural reforms and therefore launched a series of transitional justice programmes:

  • a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the financial dealings of the former President to expose and fight corruption;
  • the Constitutional Review Commission to draft a new Constitution based on ongoing consultations with Gambians at home and abroad;
  • the TRRC to investigate past human rights violations and abuses, restore the rights and dignity of victims by giving them a voice and through appropriate reparations, and to recommend ways of preventing recurrence;
  • the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in full compliance with the Paris Principles of autonomy and independence.

All of these, and especially the hearings and testimonies at the TRRC, are taking place in a fragile situation, as this is the first time that such information is revealed publicly.

The actual intervention

The intervention has four steps:

  1. Research and inception
  2. Editorial roundtable on the TRRC’s process’ editorial challenges and response
  3. Training course on how to cover the TRRC process
  4. Formulation of guidelines and an action plan for supporting the coming 2 years of TRRC coverage

The direct beneficiaries are the editors and reporters of the media, but more important are the beneficiaries of the media: The readers, the listeners, the viewers and the users of web media – the people of The Gambia.

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