By Ramatoulie Jawo
The Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, a group of families and supporters of victims who suffered under the former regime in The Gambia, expressed their urgent need for more support from the government and other stakeholders on Wednesday 7 February 2024.
The center met with the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights and Constitutional Matters to share their achievements and challenges in their quest for justice and reparations for their loved ones who were killed, disappeared, wrongly imprisoned, and tortured.
Mr Kebba Jome, the head of Programs, told the committee that the center faced several difficulties in running its operations effectively and efficiently, despite the significant progress and achievements made so far.
He said the challenges included the following: lack of long-term funding to sustain the institution and its staff, leading to job insecurity and staff shortage; lack of funds to provide medical and educational support to victims; and lack of a unit to deal with sexual and gender-based violence issues in their areas of intervention.
“The challenges include the Lack of long-term funding to maintain staff operational costs to sustain the Institution, leading to job insecurity and shortage of staff. Currently, it is only the NED project that is providing funding to the Victims Center, and it will end in September 2024. Lack of funds to continue the provision of medical and educational support to victims and Lack of a sexual and gender-based violence unit to effectively document and address issues surrounding SGBV in our areas of intervention,” he said.
Mr. Jome also mentioned the delays in setting up the Reparations Commission to pay the victims what they are owed, and the delays in identifying the remains of the alleged coup plotters of November 11, 1994, who are still at the EFSTH mortuary in Banjul.
Aisha Jammeh, Co-Founder and Program Officer at the Victim Center, said the government allocated 50 million for compensation to victims when the TRRC was about to end. She said the amount was insufficient to cover all the aspects of reparations.
“We cannot tell the source of the 50 Million. 13 million was spent on victims that needed medical treatment overseas in Turkey and the remaining 37 million balance was distributed to the rest of the identified victims for reparations,” she told the committee.
The center urged the government, through the Ministry of Justice, to collaborate with them to ensure the establishment of the repatriation and reconciliation commissions, and to ensure that all the buried victims are exhumed and identified through forensic means and handed over to their families.