By Omar Bah
The Justice ministry has announced the allocation of over D150 million in the draft 2022 Budget Estimates to be utilised as part of the reparations fund for victims of human rights abuses.
The announcement came on the occasion of the #NeverAgain March organised by the Victims Centre and civil society organisations over the weekend.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the ministry reiterated its continuous support for all victims of human rights violations and its commitment to the course of the TRRC and Justice.
The government spent D200 million on the TRRC and allocated an additional D13 million to assist the commission complete its report.
In 2019, the government made a disbursement of D50 million to the TRRC for initial payment of reparations to victims.
“Currently, the Ministry of Justice and the Victims Centre are jointly setting up a victims-led taskforce for the drafting of legislation to set up a Victims Compensation Fund to succeed the TRRC Reparations Committee. The Ministry of Justice is also working with the UN and other multilateral and bilateral partners on securing additional funds for the post-TRRC activities which include finding the best route to achieving justice for the victims,” the statement read.
The ministry said comments about the government’s lack of commitment to implement the recommendations of the TRRC upon submission of its report are at best premature and speculative.
“The office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice wishes to assure all the victims, Gambians and partners alike that the government of The Gambia remains fully committed to the implementation of the recommendations of the TRRC in the best interest of the Gambian people without fear or favour,” it said.
Victims, CSOs march
However, the civil society and the Victims Centre have conducted a #NeverAgain march on Saturday to demonstrate solidarity with the victims of human rights violations and demand truth, justice and fair reparations.
Addressing a press conference shortly after the march, the chairman of Tango, John Njie, said: “The march was meant to remind the government of its sacred obligation to ensure that the baby born of the TRRC is not aborted but nurtured to full maturity.
“And for us as the people of this great nation, to acknowledge that gross human rights violations have been meted out upon our fellow human beings but not only that but more importantly to commit ourselves, to never again allow this in The Smiling Coast,” he said.
The chairman of the Victims Centre, Sheriff Kijera, said: “The victims demand that the TRRC final report and recommendations be submitted to the president as soon as possible, accountability for all those who bear the greatest responsibility for human rights violations committed during Jammeh’s 22-years dictatorship, the government to set-up an independent body responsible for the review of TRRC reparations guideline and regulations in order to adequately provide reparations to Victims.”