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The Complementarity of Transitional Justice & SSR in Addressing and Preventing Human Rights Violations: Focus on The Gambia

15 September, 2021



The justice and security-related initiatives undertaken by the state – whether or not as part of an SSR process – constitute the means by which the state complies with its international legal obligation of guaranteeing non-recurrence.

This paper examines the interlinkage between SSR and transitional justice as complementary tools to provide a platform for reconciliation, reforming abusive institutions and ensuring oversight and accountability of the justice and security sector.

Looking at the case of The Gambia, the paper argues that SSR should be considered as an integral component to transitional justice, under the pillar of the guarantee of non-recurrence, which require states to take all necessary measures to prevent recurrence of violations, including the necessary reforms to shape its security sector in such a way that fully enshrines respect for human rights.  

An integrated approach to SSR and transitional justice implies the need to “deal with the past” as a core objective of the SSR agenda while ensuring an effective coordination and communication between the two processes so that SSR is continuously fed by and mindful of the proceedings of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC).

Furthermore, “dealing with the past” in the framework of SSR implies addressing the issue of potential vetting of security personnel allegedly involved in past abuses. In parallel, the transitional justice process constitutes an opportunity for the Government to initiate legal and judicial reforms required for effective prosecution of those allegedly responsible for serious violations of human rights committed during the past regime.  

While the paper argues that more could have been done to link SSR and transitional justice in The Gambia, the release of the TRRC report in the coming weeks will constitute a unique opportunity to effectively integrate transitional justice into the SSR agenda. The adoption of proper mechanism and strategies will be critical to ensure transparent and inclusive review of and dialogue around the recommendations of the TRRC as they pertain to the security sector to ensure that these recommendations are a matter of public interest and that they duly (re)shape the SSR agenda.   


A. Bennett; A. Burian; J.P. Kot; M. Van Wesenbeeck