Twenty-Four Years After April 10th and 11th 2000 Students Massacre


April 10th and 11th 2024 marks twenty-four years since innocent, defenceless students, two children, and one Red Cross Volunteer were shot, killed and some maimed in The Gambia following orders from the highest office in Government, the Office of the President. The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) completed its investigations and submitted its report and recommendations of which 17 relate to the April 10th and 11th 2000 student massacre. All the recommendations have been accepted in the Government’s White Paper since May 2022 yet few have been implemented to date.

TRRC Implementation Plan

Last year, in March 2023, the Government launched the TRRC Implementation Plan which includes “Theme 5: Student Demonstrations” calling for “(1) accountability for crimes committed by government officials during the April 10/11 student demonstration; (2) implement measures to ensure non-recurrence of the events of April 10th and 11th 2000; and (3) open communication lines established between students and authorities”.

The TRRC Implementation Plan also adds that “the activities focus on justice and accountability for the past crimes and guarantees of non-repetition to prevent the recurrence through the provision of capacity building, adopting necessary complaints mechanisms”.

To date, none of these activities have seen much progress.

Government’s Statement on the Implementation of the April 10/11 Recommendations

Last year the Government issued a statement highlighting the April 10/11 Student Massacre and some of the progress it made on recommendations relating to them. Some of the progress the government noted includes activities to set up a special internationalised judicial framework with ECOWAS. We urge the government to honour its pledge made through the Minister of Justice last year at an engagement organised by the Gambia Bar Association to establish the Special Prosecutors Office by mid-2024.

One achievement mentioned by the government is suspending all perpetrators who are serving within the government and the eventual passing of the Ban from Public Office (TRRC) Act. Civil Society actors and victims commend the Government for passing the Act but urge the Government to publicise the gazetted list of the names of people banned by the Act.

Some progress was noted by the government with regard to crowd control, de-escalation and first aid training for the Gambia Police Force, however, the situation has not improved with regard to citizens enjoying their right to public demonstration. As long as citizens are not allowed to exercise their right to freely assemble and demonstrate, the efforts made to train the Police serve little to no purpose.

Memorialisation and Students’ Complaints Mechanism

Last year’s statement noted that the Government recognises the need to memorialise April 10th and 11th 2000 as part of a comprehensive memorial plan covering atrocities from 1994 to 2016 and that consultation on the Memorialisation Plan will be held in Q3 of 2023, however, it appears as though another year will pass without memorialising the April 2000 victims and other TRRC victims.

The Ministry of Justice statement highlighted that “the Government can confirm that grievance mechanisms exist under MOBSE and MOHERST and is taking steps to popularise these mechanisms”. If these mechanisms are in place, they need to be actively made visible, especially during the 10th and 11th April 2000 commemoration.

Another activity which should commence in Q1 of 2024 according to the TRRC Implementation Plan is to “establish a mechanism to address student concerns and responsibilities”. In addition to this the government also plans to “establish a Complaint Unit for students at regional directorates and where they already exist, provide them with capacity training” in Q3 and Q4 of 2024.

Victims Reparations Commission and Urgent Health Needs

The Victims Reparations Bill has been passed by Parliament; which is a demonstration of the government’s resolve to progress reparations, however, a commission is still yet to be established and sworn in to commence the work of addressing victims’ reparations. It must be recalled that victims have been suffering from gunshot wounds, maimed and some killed 24 years back now. Every year that passes their bodies continue to deteriorate and the memory of the day, victims and the lesson of “Never Again” diminishes.

A welcomed statement from the Government is that “in the interim, the Ministry of Health on the request of the Ministry of Justice has recently set up a Health Board to look into cases requiring emergency treatment particularly victims of April 10th and 11th 2000 which will begin evaluating cases this week as part of the commemoration”.

We therefore urge the government to increase its pace of implementation of activities or issue a more realistic revised implementation plan. We also want to urge the government to fast track the victims’ urgent health care needs and to implement the following.

1. Declaration of April 10 as a school holiday to be designated as Gambian Students Day,

2. ⁠Review of the Public Order Act to put it in line with regional and international standards for the right to freedom of assembly,

3. ⁠Provide urgent and comprehensive medical, social and rehabilitation care for severely injured and incapacitated survivors of April 10/11,

4. ⁠Government to issue a public apology to all Gambian students and victims and the Gambia nation as a whole for its violation of rights, negligence of duty and abrogation of its legal and constitutional obligations to protect students and children.

Signed by the following Civil Society Organisations, Actors and Victims

  1. April 10th and 11th 2000 Foundation,
  2. African Network Against Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances (ANEKED), Sirra Ndow, Gambia Coordinator
  3. Association of Victim Led Associations (AVLO)
  4. Beakanyang, Nfamara Jawneh, Executive Director
  5. Fantanka, Mariama Jobarteh, Founder
  6. Open Forum the Gambia, Philip Saine, Coordinator
  7. Solo Sandeng Foundation, Fatoumatta Sandeng, Founder
  8. Team Gom Sa Bopa, Ali “Killa Ace” Cham, President
  9. The Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, Demba A Jawo, Chairperson
  10. Womens Association for Victims’ Empowerment (WAVE), Priscilla Yagu Ciesay, Technical Director
  11. Women in Liberation and Leadership (WILL), Fatou Baldeh, Founder
  12. YELEF, Aisha Jammeh, Founder
  13. Madi Jobarteh, Advocate
  14. Baboucarr Njie, Advocate