TRRC lead counsel under fire for tough questioning
By Alhassan Darboe
The lead counsel for Gambia’s truth, reconciliation and reparations commission has come under fire for tough questioning and cornering witnesses to admit to offences they might have committed. WhatsonGambia, Gambia’s most popular and controversial online platform opened up the flood gate of criticism on counsel Fall’s questioning style when it posted thus “AT THE TRRC: Counsel Essa Faal vs Witness Baboucarr Jatta. OUR TAKE: Counsels should avoid excessive interventions while witnesses are testifying. It is causing more harm than good. All witnesses should be offered the opportunity to properly put forward their case and not hectored into accepting what the TRRC wants them to accept.”
Also weighing in on the questioning style of the TRRC lead counsel, Pata P.J,a Gambian political commentator wrote: “I think Lead Counsel should ALLOW Babucarr Jatta to testify. We heard more from the junior witnesses who confessed to being participants. Interestingly, Col. Jatta's account of what happened at the Fajara Barracks seems to be corroborating Njie Ponkal's.”.
Pata P.J also added that “IF the testimonies of the 'subordinates' could be used as evidence to confront a 'superior' witness, especially where he's implicated or adversely mentioned, I think it's not only fair but necessary to allow the 'superior' elaborate. That shouldn't be a 'success or failure' battle.”
Simon Peter Mendy, another Gambian commentator added: “it seems TRRC has made up their mind that the allegations are now evidences. Note their references to the present witnesses. They discredited earlier witnesses as liars yet TRRC uses the same discredited witnesses' testimonies as evidences.”
However not everyone is unhappy with counsel Faal’s line of questioning and tactics to squeeze the truth out of witnesses. Yunus Hydara, a Gambian social commentator writes: “The TRRC is an extremely credible & competent institution. Keep up the great job Dr. Jallow, Dr. Sise, Essa Faal, Horejah & the rest of the team.” Mr. Hydara also added, “The TRRC is exposing The emptiness of the souls of the worst type of Gambians. These criminals and social parasites sucked the blood out of poor people for decades masquerading as decent people. They rendered no service to their country; they took salaries they never earned.”.
Also defending Faal’s tough stance on witnesses, Adama Cham added “It is proven beyond doubt that Gambians don't appreciate their own. That said, doubting the competence and impartiality of ESSA FALL only exposes one's ignorance and disrespect to the family of the victims. All genuine Gambians are with you ESSA FALL. You have proven your competence at the international stage.”