By Tabora Bojang
Nominated National Assembly Member, Fatoumatta Jawara, has denounced some unnamed party leaders for trying to politicise the sufferings of victims of former president Yahya Jammeh.
She made these claims during the debate on the objects and reasons of the Victims Reparations Bill 2023 which was tabled by the minister of justice yesterday for NAMs to consider and approve within 3 days since it was laid with a certificate of urgency.
Some other NAMs voted against the bill being classified with a certificate of urgency and argued it will not avail them adequate time to conduct proper consultations with all relevant stakeholders before passing it.
NAM Jawara, who said she supports the bill with a certificate of urgency, charged that lawmakers who voted against the bill under the certificate of urgency “have no justification” to do so.
“As a victim [of Jammeh] I feel offended when I see an elderly statesman at a funeral of Nogoi Njie crying in the name of the victims. The victims are sick and tired of party leaders and party militants using them to score political points. We are sick and tired. We don’t want to go over this victim issue. It causes a lot of trauma for us and our families. The lady in question [Nogoi] fought with sweat and blood to bring in a democratically elected government. Those calling on the government to help this lady or any other victim, we cannot do it if the Assembly did not approve. But I dont think this lady should suffer for a medical bill when she fought in this last parliamentary election and succeeded in bringing 15 NAMs into this parliament through her party and those parliamentarians are in a better position to support her before the government funding came,” Jawara stated in tears.
“I am urging the minister to pay serious attention to the victims who are vulnerable with no formal education,” she added.
She called on her colleagues to rally behind the Victims Reparations Bill.
However, Kiang West NAM, Lamin Ceesay, lashed at some lawmakers for double standards.
“I ask myself a question. People shouting about reparations today made victims cry in this very Assembly and insisted that victims would not explain their pain. If you are very concerned about victims before you allocate D10 million for the president to go on tour and politics, you would have allocated more to victims in the 2022 budget. Reparations does not just mean a piece of legislation, the absence of a legislation does not mean you cannot reparate today. There are reparations that do not involve money. Many victims are dying. What have you done about them? How many of you leave your houses to go and visit the Victims Centre and know their condition? We all want support for victims but why the certificate of urgency? Do you want to pass legislation that affects people whose parents are killed in 2 hours? This bill needs to go through a rigorous scrutiny,” he said.