By Baba Sheriff Bojang
The Standard has learnt that the family of the late Deyda Hydara, has informed the Truth, Reconciliation & Reparations Commission that it will not take any money in the form of reparations from the commission for the death of Mr Hydara.
Mr Hydara, co-owner and primary editor of The Point, one of the three leading independent newspapers in The Gambia, was brazenly ambushed and murdered by members of President Yahya Jammeh’s hit squad, the Junglers, in the evening of 16th December 2004. His death became an albatross, the spectre of which hung around the regime of President Yahya Jammeh until its ouster in January 2017.
In July 2019, during public hearings of the TRRC, a Jungler, Lieutenant Malick Jatta, confessed that he participated in the killing of Mr Hydara and confirmed that President Jammeh ordered the assassination. Several other witnesses later admitted their involvement in the murder at the behest of Jammeh.
At the end of public hearings on 28th May, the TRRC announced that government had given it D50 million out of which D13 million was spent on “interim reparations” by way of medical assistance for the victims who needed urgent medical attention and educational support for students.
The commission said the balance of D37 million would be used to pay final reparations to victims.
The Standard has been informed that while many victims and families of victims have received payments from TRRC, the Hydara family has decided to forego any payments from the commission.
A source close to the family told this paper that the consensus in the family was that the Hydaras will not take money from the TRRC because other victims needed it more. “The members of the family like many Gambians, heard about the wanton and untold suffering visited upon thousands of Gambians under Jammeh’s tyranny. It’s not that the reparation payments are too small or that the Hydara family is too rich, they sincerely believe that given the circumstances, they would rather have the monies be given to other victims who needed it more. “
Baba Hydara, the managing director of The Point and the eldest son of Deyda Hydara, declined to make immediate comments on the matter when contacted by The Standard last night.
The TRRC put the total reparation bill at nearly D206 million and wants the government to cough up the outstanding D169 million after the initial payment of D50 million.
However, Justice minister Dawda Jallow told this paper in early June this year that The Gambia government is drafting a Victims Compensation Fund Bill that will be sent to the National Assembly.
“The bill will provide for the establishment of an independent agency which will be responsible for the payment of all victims,” the minister said. Asked how soon the bill will be presented to parliament, Minister Jallow said the intention is to have it ready before the end of the year so that once it becomes law, the compensation funds would be factored in the 2022 budget.