EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Gambia government says it has decided that former President Yahya Jammeh will have to pay from his pocket, the ‘wrong’ doing of human sufferings his regime unleashed on some hundreds of people during his 22-year rule.
At a press conference on Monday, Justice Minister Abubacarr M Tambedou said Mr Jammeh was a central pillar in the infrastructure of terror and human right abuses that were unleashed on ordinary Gambians and others under his leadership.
He announced the government’s first contribution of 50 million Dalasi to the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) reparation Trust Fund. The money is said to have been realised from the sale of Mr Jammeh’s assets by the Commission of Inquiry that was instituted by President Adama Barrow in 2017, to probe into financial activities of individuals and institutions in connection to their dealings with Mr Jammeh.
“Pursuant to Section 13 and 20 of the TRRC Act, one of the key mandates, and a peculiar feature of truth commission process is the granting of reparations to victims by the TRRC itself,” Mr Tambedou said.
Exiled former President Yahya Jammeh is accused of presiding over acts of gross human right abuse and violations during his 22-year rule of the tiny West African state. During his time, several people, including more than 50 Ghanaian, Nigerian, and other West African migrants were reported to had gone missing; believed to have been killed by one of his most feared kill-squad ‘junglers.’ There were also reports of torture and disappearance without trace, of both civilians and security personnel.
“Let us demonstrate our true character of benevolence to the world,” Mr Tambedou said.
Last month, the government placed a lien on the properties of fourteen close allies of Mr. Jammeh, and announced a ban on him and several other officials and friends of his government from holding public offices for the rest of their lives. This was contained in a 93-page dossier that was prepared from the Commission of Inquiry reports.
The Commission investigation report had stated that Mr Jammeh owned 281 properties. Justice Minister Tambedou said sale of the properties is still ongoing.
But many Gambians had accused the Adama Barrow-led government of selective justice in the report when it rejected some of the Commission recommendations to remove some officials who are still serving in his government, for aiding Mr Jammeh, including Mr Barrow’s own chief of Protocol, Alhagie Ousman Ceesay and finance minister Mamburay Njie.
Chairman of the truth-seeking commission, Dr Lamin J Sise said they at the TRRC are grateful for the government decision, saying 50 million Dalasi is a splendid contribution to the welfare of the Jammeh victims. “Victims deserve this kind of attention because they suffered from the Jammeh regime and they cannot be forgotten.”
He said at the end of the day, everyone is a victim under the brutal regime, saying this is the first act in bringing about healing and justice.
Sheriff Kijera of The Gambia Center for Victims of Human Right Violations said in order to underscore the importance that the Government attaches to the objective, the word “Reparations” was included in the title of the truth commission, making it the first of its kind anywhere in the world. “Today, almost one year into the TRRC public hearings, the Government is fulfilling its promise to grant reparations for the victims of human rights violations and abuses within the mandate of the TRRC,” he said.