Renowned international lawyer Essa M. Faal, has been named as the lead counsel to the Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC, which will be looking at the misdeeds of the previous regime of President Yahya Jammeh.
In his capacity as lead counsel, Mr Faal will be responsible for guiding the investigations of the TRRC, assisting the Commissioners, and leading witnesses before the TRRC on behalf of the Commissioners.
Mr Faal has extensive knowledge and experience in international criminal law and international human rights law. He started his legal career as a State Counsel at the Ministry of Justice in The Gambia in 1994. During this period he served as Counsel to the Commission of Inquiry into the Financial Activities of Public Corporations. At the end of 1997, he was appointed as First Secretary and later promoted to Counselor for Legal Affairs at the Gambia Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York to help the Gambia’s team at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
In January 2000, Mr. Faal was appointed by the United Nations as a Judicial Affairs Officer and deployed to the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor. In that capacity, he contributed significantly in the reorganization and re-establishment of the justice sector in East Timor. In 2002 Mr. Faal was promoted to the post of Acting Deputy General Prosecutor for Serious Crimes and later moved to the post of Chief of Prosecutions.
In January 2005, Mr Faal joined the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) based in Rome where he, among other things, designed, supervised and directed the implementation of good governance and justice sector reform programmes for developing countries around the world.
In January 2006, Mr. Faal was appointed by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to head the complex investigations into the Darfur situation in which 300,000 black Africans were allegedly killed. Mr Faal successfully led the investigations that culminated in the indictment of, and the issuance of warrants of arrest against, senior members of the Sudanese Government for the crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity at the time. Soon thereafter, Mr Faal was appointed to the position of Senior Trial Lawyer/Lead Prosecuting Counsel for the Darfur cases.
Between March 2011 and September 2016, Mr Faal successfully served as Co- Lead Defence Counsel in the ICC cases of the Prosecutor vs. Francis Kirimi Muthaura (ex-Secretary General of Kenya, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta (President of Kenya), Mr. William Ruto (Deputy President of Kenya), and General Muhammed Hussein Ali (ex Chief of Police of Kenya). Currently, Mr Faal serves as Counsel for Charles Ghankay Taylor (former President of Liberia) before the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone and also Counsel for Saif Al Islam Gadafi at the ICC. He is also Counsel for victims in the Darfur cases and victims for extra judicial killings in the Philippines before the ICC.
With such extensive experience in dealing with mass atrocity crimes in different capacities, and the extensive insight he has gained in handling victims of such crimes, Mr Faal’s appointment will significantly enrich the TRRC process in The Gambia.