BY: Kebba AF Touray & Awa Bah
The Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, was launched on Wednesday, 17/05/2017, at the COMMIT Building along Kotu Highway.
The ceremony was attended by survivors, government officials, the Ghanaian community, foreign diplomats, the press and MPs.
In his welcoming remarks, Mr. Maila Touray, the chairperson of the center, stated that the creation of the center which is henceforth called the Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, is borne out of the desire for the survivors of Jammeh’s regime to come together and get a center that will be tasked to ensure that justice is done to those who suffered from the 22 years of the Jammeh’s tyrannical rule. He revealed that among the things they want to do is to serve as collaborators and facilitators between the government and the victims to ensure transitional justice and truth reconciliation. He thanked all those who turned up to the launch and urged all hands to be put on deck to ensure the functionality of the center.
Baba Hydara, the son of the late Dayda Hydara, who spoke on behalf of the family said that the survivors with the help of Saul Mbenga and Maila Touray, started this organization which has become an NGO, since it began three months ago. It was really helpful to all the survivors, as they were able to share their pains and sorrows that the Jammeh administration meted on them, so that the government can ensure that truth and reconciliation goes well, but will also want justice to take its cause, as well as liberation and to compensate the victims, he added. He called on the government and international organizations to help them finance the activities of the center.
The Assistant Secretary General of TGCVHRV, Isha Jammeh, opined that if they were to hold this meeting six months back, many personalities would not have liked to associate themselves with the occasion due to the fear instilled in them by the brutal regime of the ex- president .She described the day as symbolic and historic in their map to justice, to share their fixed feelings, remember the departed souls and give solidarity to those who suffered during the Jammeh rule.
The Agriculture Minister, Hon Omar Jallow remarked that the current government will ensure that justice and national reconciliation will be realised, noting that they are sensitive. Mr. Jallow stated that we have a lot to learn from others in ensuring that justice is rendered, but clarified that selective justice will not be tolerated. While urging the victims to be patient for justice to be rendered to them, he also urged the justice minister to solidify justice to all the citizenry, regardless of politics, language, ethnic and tribal background.
Hon Halifa Sallah, the NAM for Serre Kunda Central, said he had to attend the launching despite his busy schedule, because it is beginning of the beginning of another process in the evolution of the life of this country. He said that society develops by building instruments, institutions, values and culture. He added, “We build these institutions based on concrete experiences that we either want to consolidate or eradicate for good. There is nobody in the country who is not convinced that impunity is the worst enemy of humankind. If we are to eradicate impunity, we must begin to see it in concrete terms and this is why societies which want to develop must look at concrete experiences, not with the view to live with the past, but to be able to move forward and victims of torture, death, would require real attention and the more attention they have, the more they feel that justice is done. He said that building centres will provide one with the opportunity to have those people to realise that people care and are concerned and when it goes to the larger society, then that problem will never be seen again .So in brief, we are here building a new culture.it arises from the information and the conversion of that information in a real knowledge to what has happened then into a way of life, so that it will never happen again. I belief all those here present can agree with me with one slogan that is NEVER AGAIN after this experience NEVER AGAIN”.
In his launching statement, the minister of justice, Mr Abubakar Tambadou, expressed that he took the job to put an end to inhuman treatments such as disappearance without trace, adding that the past injustices are too many. He advised all to be true ambassadors of the country, put hand in glove to move the country to where we want it to be and let justice guide our actions. He revealed that we have to make hard decisions, because we are a small country with a big role to play. Mr Tambadou challenged all to do their utmost to make sure that the world learns from the Gambia. He remarked, “Let’s continue to teach the world how a peace loving and progressive people conduct themselves, behave in a mature and sensible manner. Let’s approach our quest for justice with the seriousness it deserves”.
The launching was chaired by Aminata Correa and the vote of thanks was delivered by the vice chairperson, Sheriff Kejera.
The objectives of the organization are:
- To advocate for constitutional reforms that will ensure Violations perpetrated on Gambians during the second republic shall NEVER happen again
- To serve as a resource center for victims and families of victims of human rights violations
- To facilitate provision of counseling and medical services to victims of gender-based crimes torture, rape, murder, wrongful imprisonment and disappearance committed by the Jammeh Government
- To be the liaison between victims of human rights violations and various arms of government during the transitional Justice phase of national reconciliation
- To provide a safe environment that will help victims of human rights violations and their families get truth, justice and where applicable reparation
6. To collaborate with government, national, and international agencies in providing other needed services for victims of human rights violations.