By Omar Bah
The chairperson of the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations has said the APRC must not be given permit to protest to demand for former president Yahya Jammeh’s return.
“That would be a total disregard and lack of sensitivity to the plight of the victims. If the government should give the APRC such a permit to demonstrate, it is going to be an insult and slap on the face of the victims, given all the revelations about the former regime’s human rights violations,” Sheriff Kijera told The Standard yesterday.
Recently, the 1st deputy leader of the APRC, Ousman ‘Rambo’ Jatta announced in a WhatsApp audio that the former ruling party is planning to demonstrate on 17 January to demand the immediate return of former President Yahya Jammeh.
However according to Sheriff Kijera, Rambo’s comments could only further retraumatise the victims and make it even harder for them to forgive.
“I don’t know how could anyone in their right senses advocate for Jammeh’s return with all the revelations at the TRRC about the human rights violations, torture and extra-judicial killings. It is quite apparent with the show of absurdity and the lack of remorse by the APRC,” he said.
He continued: “It is quite irresponsible and in fact ironical for people like Ousman Rambo Jatta who has himself undergone torture and enforced disappearance under Jammeh’s regime to advocate for his return. I think the APRC is just trying to seek relevance and political attention.”
He said if APRC is given a permit, the Centre will also protest about the government’s lack of consideration for the plight of the victims.
“We will not welcome any permit given to the APRC to protest for the return of Yahya Jammeh. It should be totally disregarded by the government. They should be denied the permit. They have no relevance to protest for the return of Jammeh,” he added.
Kijera said Jammeh can only come back to face justice. “The victims have no problem with Jammeh returning to the country on his own accord but it must only be to face justice for alleged human rights violations committed in his regime.
“If Jammeh feels that he has the right to come to The Gambia as a Gambian, then he must be ready to defend his 22 years of brutality. We don’t have problem with that; he can come and we pray that Jammeh willingly return as his dumb supporters demand. But he has to face justice for the crimes perpetrate under him,” he said.
Kijera said the victims centre is also equally worried about the former ruling party’s recent utterances directed at the victims of sexual violence.
“We observed with great dismay statements coming from the APRC leadership especially with regard to the victims of sexual violence. The threatening remarks directed at victims are quite unacceptable and I think the government needs to do something to address that,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Kijera also dispelled rumours that the victims centre is planning to demonstrate.
“We have a good collaborative mechanism and relation with all the stakeholders of the transitional justice, especially with the ministry of justice, TRRC and all the other actors and players of the transitional justice system and programmes. The year has come to an end; we can only commend the work of the TRRC as they have done a tremendous job to unearth the human rights violations of the former regime,” he added.
He also commended government’s decision to identify the Human Rights Commission as successor institution to the TRRC for the implementation of the recommendation of the truth commission.
“I further call on the victims to exercise patience and come