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Justice for 66+ Movement wants Assembly to meet families of AKI victims

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By Alagie Manneh

By Alagie Manneh

The Justice for 66+ Campaign, a movement created to fight for justice and accountability for victims of the deadly contaminated Indian cough syrups that killed 70 children, has asked the National Assembly to grant it audience and families of the dead children.

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The National Assembly select committee on health has summoned the minter and officials over the matter. However, according to the Justice for 66+ Campaign at a meeting yesterday in Kotu, it is equally important for the lawmakers to hear testimonies of families of the victims in order to have better understanding of the tragic issue.

Addressing a gathering of parents of victims and relatives killed by the Indian cough syrup, human rights activist Madi Jobarteh, said the select committee on health should summon the victims just like they summoned the Ministry of Health and its related agencies. “The victims should also be summoned so that they hear from their experiences, their griefs and all circumstances surrounding this matter. It is important they help the National Assembly get a better picture, so that they can see what happened not only in terms of the medicines, but the circumstances, and the service delivery in the health facilities.”

Mr Jobarteh criticised government’s handling of the matter, complaining that there have been “a lot of delayed tactics” from the onset.

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He added: “We have seen the government doing things, even on GRTS. What stops them from calling for a panel of victims, too, to state their version of the events? If you want to establish truth and justice, that is the way to go about it.”

The Monday meeting, held at the Victims Centre, marked the first interface between families of the victims since the cough-syrup deaths.

Mr Jobarteh said since the tragic incident, no importer, or even official, has faced any arrest. “There is a lot of inadequacy, and misleading information. We don’t understand until now, pending investigations, some action cannot be taken against some importers, and officials. Clearly, the government is under pressure, but don’t seem prepared to come out and take any responsibility.”

Adama Jallow, the national coordinator of the Victims Centre, said the Gambia Pharmacy Council should be suspended until investigations into the matter are completed.

The meeting was interspersed with testimonies of some of the families of the victims.

One man testified that his toddler suffered for more than a week and that it took him three more days just to die. He said his child died due to sheer negligence by the government.

The general meeting also saw the selection of Ebrima Sanyang and Mariama Sisawo as chair and vice chair respectively of the Justice movement. One Ebrima Saidy was selected to be the spokesperson of the movement.

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