TrustAfrica has successfully completed its second training of media professionals in Banjul, The Gambia. The training programme which was held from 12-16 November 2018, was organised by TrustAfrica in partnership with The Netherland Embassy in Dakar. The aim of the meeting was to build the capacity of media personnel from a select number of West African countries to effectively report on and create constructive public debates on transitional justice developments and international criminal justice at the local, national, regional and international levels.
With the advent of a new government, The Gambia has embarked on a Transitional Justice Programme which consists of judicial and non-judicial measures designed to redress legacies of human rights abuses. In addition to the Government’s efforts to retract the withdrawal of The Gambia from the International Criminal Court (ICC), The Gambia has also launched a Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) to address past human right violations committed by the former regime. These bold steps by the government illustrate its commitment to strengthening rule of law and respect for human rights which are part of reasons The Gambia was considered an appropriate Country to host the Training. In his keynote address at the opening ceremony, the Hon. Attorney General and Minister of Justice of The Gambia, Abubacarr Marie Tambadou, noted that: “journalists play a primordial role of ensuring accountability, through reporting on transitional justice initiatives, and closely following up to ensure adherence to procedure. In this role, the media takes on greater responsibility as the public instinctively turns to it for clarification, and at times even for direction”. Consequently, the training was a forum to share ideas, reflect on the role of the media and promote international best practices, in matters relating to transitional justice in Africa, especially for participants from countries that have recently emerged from conflict or authoritarian rule.
In addition to broadening participants’ knowledge on the work of the ICC as a mechanism for States to fight impunity by prosecuting and holding accountable individuals accused of committing international crimes, the recent discourse bordering on the relationship between the ICC and African states especially on issues of selectivity and fairness were key topics of discussion. The link between understanding legal proceedings in guaranteeing the quality and credibility of international criminal justice was also deliberated on.
The media was charged to ensure that the public is provided with accurate, quality, credible and independent journalism to allow for well-informed discourse about the international criminal justice system.
It is envisaged that following the training, there will be more progressive reporting and better coverage of Transitional Justice processes and international criminal justice issues in the media by the participants in their respective countries.