By Tabora Bojang
The Chairman of the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, Dr Lamin J Sise has lamented that it has been challenging for the commission to get witnesses to testify on former president Yahya Jammeh’s alternative HIV\AIDS treatment programme.
The exiled former president sent shockwaves across the world when he declared in 2007 that he could cure AIDS through the use of herbal concoction as long as it was a Thursday. Over 300 people reportedly underwent the treatment which allegedly cost some people their lives.
However, speaking at the opening of the commission’s fifteenth session to focus on violations of the rights of road users by Yahya Jammeh’s convoys yesterday, Dr Sise said as the commission encountered during its sessions on sexual violence and Jammeh’s witch hunt exercise “it has been equally challenging for the TRRC to get witnesses on the theme of Jammeh’s alternative HIV/AIDS treatment programme.”
He said the challenge is understandable in the context of an unprecedented social stigma associated with such issues.
“These challenges notwithstanding, the TRRC continues to encourage all victims of the former president’s activities, be it road users or the Alternative Treatment Programme, to please come forward and share their stories with the Commission. In that event, the TRRC assures them that their privacy and integrity will be respected and protected” chairman Sise urged.
Last year three survivors of the so-called treatment programme asked the authorities to revoke the licenses of Dr Tamsir Mbowe and Dr Malick Njie both of who served as Jammeh’s Minister of Health who directed the treatment programme.
Dr Mariatou Jallow, a former health minister under Jammeh who admitted taking part in the treatment programme, told the commission last year that it was a ‘hoax and a lie’ and the doctors who participated in it knew it was a lie.
Three survivors Lamin Moko Ceesay, Fatou Jatta and Ousman Sowe had filed a lawsuit in 2018 against Jammeh in the High Court seeking financial damages for harm suffered and a declaration from the Court that their rights were violated.