By Lamin Cham
The Gambia government is drafting a Victims Compensation Fund Bill that will be sent to the National Assembly to become law in The Gambia.
Disclosing this to The Standard yesterday two days after the truth commission announced it will start paying reparations by June 30, Justice Minister Dawda Jallow said the bill will seek to ensure that all victims of human right abuses under the regime of Yahya Jammeh are compensated from a budget passed by the assembly as well as funds from partners.
“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 next  budget.
Asked about the fate of the extra D50 million promised by the government, the minister said the initial D50 million given to the TRRC and the additional D50 million promised are both from the proceeds of the sale of the former president’s assets.
“However, in the light of the recent Court of Appeal decision putting a halt to all sales, no activity has taken place as far as the former president’s assets are concerned. I made this point clear before so the TRRC could continue to pay reparations from the remainder of the initial D50 million given to them and even after they have completed their assignment, the matter of reparations would continue to be handled by the state through an independent body which would be established by law,” AG Jallow said.
He said the Barrow administration is very much aware of the plight of the victims. “And in any case, the TRRC report itself is yet to come,” he observed.
On Monday the TRRC reparations committee head Ms Adelaide Sosseh confirmed that payment of reparations would start by June 30 from the remainder of the D50 million provided by government part of which has already been used on interim reparations. She expressed her hope that another D50 million promised by the government could be made available before then.
She estimated that some D300 million would be needed to compensate all the victims identified by the TRRC.