Hundreds of victims, activists and sympathizers on Saturday took to the streets in Banjul demanding the government’s commitment to the transitional justice process and implementation of recommendations expected to be submitted by the truth commission.
The peaceful protest march is inspired by what victims call ‘the unholy alliance’ between President Barrow’s NPP and Ex President Jammeh’s APRC which took a fresh turn on Friday oct 17 with Jammeh rejecting the existence of such an alliance before sacking the entire APRC executive led by Fabakary Tombong Jatta, replacing them with new faces.
Chanting and holding placards with messages reading: “The new Gambia of freedom and progress, No impunity, never again and justice must prevail.” victims sent strong messages of the never again campaign.
The march organized by The Association of Non-Governmental Organization (TANGO), Victims Centre and partners is meant to remind authorities about the urgent need to implement TRRC recommendations.
Moments before the march, the government through the Justice Ministry issued a statement assuring all the victims, Gambians, and partners that ‘ Gambia remains fully committed to the implementation of the recommendations of the TRRC in the best interest of the Gambian people without fear or favor.’
“With regards to the victims of human rights violations, the government in 2019 made an initial disbursement of GMD 50,000,000.00 (Fifty Million Dalasi) to the TRRC for an initial payment of reparations to victims. Currently, the Ministry of Justice and the Victims Centre are jointly setting up a victims-led task force for the drafting of legislation to set up a Victims Compensation Fund to succeed the TRRC Reparations Committee. The government of The Gambia has already committed over GMD 150,000,000.00 (One Hundred and Fifty Million Dalasi) in the draft 2022 Budget Estimates, to be utilized as a part of the reparations fund. The Ministry of Justice is also working with the UN and other multilateral and bilateral partners on securing additional funds for the post-TRRC activities which include finding the best route to achieving justice for the victims,” the statement added.
The civil society groups organizing the protest have also developed a road map which will serve as a mechanism to support the Gambia government to primarily undertake ‘what needs to be done to ensure we have or achieve the objectives of the transitional justice process.
John Charles Njie the Chairman of Tango reminded marchers for justice and accountability that: “Never Again must we suffer the affliction meted out on us during 22yrs of misrule and tyranny, engineered by a son of this soil and enabled by a system set in motion.’
‘Through our collective resolve, we the people rose up, made a valued decision, and voted out the perpetrator in chief in the hope that the system set in motion will be uprooted and replaced by one with the interest of the citizenry as its driving force. But alas that dream is yet to be realized. Let me be quick to add that all hope is not lost, if we decided before, we can always decide again.”