By Tabora Bojang
Survivors and families of the 44 migrants Ghanaian killed in Gambia in 2005 have commended the Barrow government for agreeing to prosecute former president Yahya Jammeh over the killings.
However, they also called on the Gambia government to reconsider its decision to pay a D32,400,000 equivalent to $612,000 reparation, calling it inadequate.
“We are encouraged by the Gambia government’s response that it has accepted to prosecute Yahya Jammeh and this we think is going to be a good signal to other African heads of state particularly those in the West African subregion that these unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and tortures will not go unpunished and there would be no impunity for such actions. We look forward to other steps to ensure parts accepted by the Gambia government are implemented to the letter,” the victims’ families declared at a press conference in Accra yesterday, called to react to the Gambia government’s White Paper on TRRC recommendations.
According to the TRRC findings, a total of 44 Ghanaians, 9 Nigerians, 2 Togolese, a Senegalese and an Ivorian plus one Gambia national were killed by the Junglers on the orders of Yahya Jammeh in July 2005.
The Gambia government said it has accepted the commission’s recommendation to prosecute Jammeh and 13 other accomplices that took part in the crime as well as provide a monetary reparation of D32M to the victims’ families through their respective governments as soon as possible.
However, addressing a press conference organised by the Jammeh2Justice Campaign Ghana, a representative of the Ghanaian survivors and victims, one of the speakers Mr Mensah, said the money announced by the Gambia government does not reflect or meet the standard of the recent judgements by the Ecowas court in cases of wrongful deaths, arrests and enforced disappearances.
Mensah, who claimed to be a brother to one of the massacred Ghanaians in The Gambia, said a similar case was brought to the Ecowas court from Gambia and a judgement was given awarding $100,00 to one person.
“So, if about 44 Ghanaians and other West Africans are getting only $612,000, this means you are just compensating 6 people. Even though the survivors and the victims’ families appreciate the good work of the Commission [TRRC] and the Government of The Gambia, we still want to appeal to the government to reconsider their amount to be paid as compensation. We suggest that the amount be increased to $500, 000 dollars for each survivor and victims’ families. We also called on the government of Ghana to immediately engage with the government of the Gambia for an upward revision of the compensation amount to reflect current awards made by the Ecowas Community Court for Justice,” he declared
The victims further expressed disappointment in the Ghanaian government for refusing to publicly comment on the TRRC report as well as the White Paper.
The Ghanaian victims also alleged that the previous $500,000 paid by the Jammeh regime as compensation in 2010 was misappropriated by the government.
“Now that this money is to be sent to the Ghana Government, we strongly recommend the establishment of a committee comprising the executive, representatives of the victims’ families and the Jammeh2Justice Ghana Campaign for the disbursement of the said funds. This time round, there should be a committee that will involve all stakeholders to ensure proper accountability of the money because half of the money was not accounted for,” Mensah said
William Nyarka, the coordinator of the Jammeh2Justice Ghana Campaign, commended the Gambia government for what he called ‘transparency in the process.’