The announcement that government has allocated D150M in the budget for victims’ reparations among other measures taken to further the course of the transitional justice system is very encouraging and happy news.
The announcement now demonstrates that government is serious and sincere with the plight of the victims of the 22 years brutal tyranny that killed, maimed and physically and mentally tortured whole communities in The Gambia.
It is also very important the government is going to set up an independent body to administer these funds after the work of the TRRC. This point is particularly poignant because for most victims, the TRRC’s reparations guidelines leave much to be desired with and in some cases, negligible sums of money allocated for the various categories of victims. Many feel that even though the TRRC may not have enough money for reparations but the commission should at least adopt a guideline for government to allocate decent money to the victims and not the ‘pittance’ in their guidelines.
Going forward as promised by Justice Minister Jallow, the government must remain committed and emphatic to the concerns and plights of the victims by raising adequate money to compensate them as that would surely facilitate and make reconciliation and forgiveness faster than any process. In the same vein, the government must equally listen to the call of the stakeholders in and outside The Gambia for the implementation of the TRRC recommendations when they come. The surest way to reconciliation is to accept responsibility. The fundamental meaning of transitional justice is defined as follows: “Transitional justice is a response to systematic or widespread violations of human rights. It seeks recognition for victims and promotion of possibilities for peace, reconciliation and democracy.
Transitional justice is not a special form of justice but justice adapted to societies transforming themselves after a period of pervasive human rights abuse. In some cases, these transformations happen suddenly; in others, they may take place over many decades”.
Going by the above, the government, though has done well, still has some catching up to do.