By Nelson Manneh
The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) has recommended for the Gambia Government to pay thirty-two million dalasi (D32 million) to the West African Migrants, who were murdered in the Gambia during the regime of former President Yahya Jammeh.
The Truth Commission made this recommendation on 16 July 2021 at its headquarters, Dunes Resort.
The Deputy Chairperson of the Truth Commission, Mrs. Adelaide Sosseh said those who lost their lives as established by the commission cannot restore their lives, but need justice.
She said the commission has come up with a reparation policy and guidelines that will guide the whole reparation process.
“In 2019, the government of the Gambia gives us fifty million dalasi and promised to give us another fifty million dalasi. Part of the money that was given to us was used to facilitate medical support and other support to victims who urgently need support at the time,” she said.
TRRC Vice Chairperson said about one thousand victims were identified by the Truth Commission and out of the one thousand victims, seven hundred and fifty-eight should receive fifty thousand dalasi and above, and two hundred and forty-two victims should receive below fifty thousand dalasi.
“The Gambia Government should pay thirty-two million dalasi to the West African migrants who were killed in the Gambia at the time in question,” she said.
Madam Sosseh said the victims will be compensated based on their level of victimization, adding six hundred thousand dalasi will be given to the families of the victims who were murdered at the time.
Sosseh said the total money estimated to compensate victims is two hundred and five million, eight hundred and twenty thousand, seven hundred and eighty dalasi (D205, 820, 780). She indicated that all victim-perpetrators will not be compensated.
Dr. Lamin J. Sise, TRRC Chairperson, said on 30th July 2021, his-led commission will present the commission’s report to the President of the Republic of the Gambia.
“During our public hearings, three hundred and ninety-two witnesses, the majority of whom were victims of atrocities meted out to innocent civilians by the State, its agents or individuals sponsored by both. The witnesses appearing before the Commission also included self-confessed perpetrators,” he said.
Sise said with the money available, they will not be able to pay all the victims, but their (victims’) payment will continue after the commission submits their report.
The National Assembly enacted a law in 2017 called TRRC Act, 2017 which established the Commission. The commission was set up to deal with human rights violations of the former regime of President Jammeh, who ruled the Gambia for the past 22 years.
The main objectives of the Commission are, inter alia, to create an impartial historical record of violations and abuses of human rights from July 1994 to January 2017, in order to promote healing and reconciliation, respond to the needs of the victims, address impunity, and prevent a repeat of the violations and abuses suffered by making recommendations for the establishment of appropriate preventive mechanisms, including institutional and legal reforms.
The objectives also include establishing and making known the fate or whereabouts of disappeared victims; provide victims an opportunity to relate their own accounts of the violations and abuses suffered; and grant reparations to victims in appropriate cases.
TRRC revealed that during the 871 days, 392 witnesses testified, saying the testimonies heard during the 871 days of public hearings brought pain and bewilderment to the population. They said they could not believe that the atrocities they were hearing from witnesses could occur in their country.
“The commission of these atrocities by Jammeh and his cohorts achieved the desired effect of instilling fear among the Gambian population. It also gave them time and space to pillage the resources of the country. Among the kinds of atrocities and other human rights violations detailed by witnesses during the public hearings are the following: arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, unlawful killings, torture, enforced disappearances, sexual and gender-based violence, inhuman and degrading treatment, witch-hunting, fake HIV/AIDS treatment, and widespread abuse of public offices,” the Commission revealed.