By Omar Bah
The interim chairperson of The Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations, Sheriff Kijera, has said that the victims of Jammeh feel “betrayed and disappointed” by the Coalition government.
“I think we are very disappointed as far as the change that we all voted for is concerned,” he told The Standard newspaper in an exclusive interview.
He said there has not been much efforts from the government with regard to the ongoing investigations into disappearances among others.
“I think the people who are in government now seem to have forgotten about other victims. Ousainou Darboe and Amadou Sanneh are all victims, but none of them have set a foot at the Victims Centre to show solidarity and support with the victims of the former regime. The only other actors that we have seen are Ministers Henry Gomez and Omar Jallow,” he alleged.
“But I have to add that the victims are disappointed with OA Jallow when he stated that he wants to see a Gambia without a TRRC process and he is willing to forgive Jammeh and he does not want to see Jammeh being prosecuted. Well that is his opinion but as a political figure I think that is a very selfish comment coming from a very responsible person like OJ. So I think we have been very disappointed and let down by some of the political figures in government.”
Kijera said bodies have been exhumed but “nothing has been done about them while the victims’ families have been traumatised during that process and there is nothing forthcoming as far as investigations are concerned.”
Kijera said the Ministry of the Interior should have been in a better position to address such issues, “But as far as we know, we have not received any communication from the Ministry of the Interior and they have never visited the Victims Centre.”
Ministry of health
Kijera continued: “We also have issues with the Ministry of Health. Last year we had a pledge from the Turkish Embassy to support about nine of our victims, particularly the April 10-11 victims. They were planning to support them to have medical treatment in Turkey. But we were supposed to provide the air tickets. We approached the government but nothing has been coming from the government side. Fortunately GPA pledged four air tickets, Papa Yusupha Njie of Unique Solutions pledged one ticket and through him we were able to have a pledge form Trust Bank.
“But we needed medical reports from the Medical Board. We approached the Ministry of Health, in particular the Serekunda General Hospital, but they told us that they can’t do much because there was too much bureaucracy involved.”
However, Kijera thumbed up the Ministry of Justice for doing an admirable job done in contacting the Office of the Vice President to see how the government can step in to assess some of these victims.
“We are already in contact with the Office of the Vice President to work out the modalities on how to secure some funding to provide medical assistance to some of these victims. We are yet to receive any formal appointment from the Office of the Vice President. Even today I was in contact with the protocol of the vice president. But hopefully before next week, [we will hear from them],” he added.
He disclosed that the centre has registered at least one thousand victims, including those who suffered torture, enforced disappearance, unlawful dismissal and Jammeh’s HIV treatment.