By Kebba Secka
An interest free loan amounting to sixty-six thousand dalasi (D66,000), was given to seven victims of human rights violation of the former regime to start small businesses to support themselves.
Mr. Baboucarr Njie, the adviser to the Board of the Victim’s Centre, said the project is supported by a Swedish Gambian NGO called ‘Boka Lohho’ and the interest free loan is said to be payable in 18 months.
Speaking at the presentation which was done in a brief ceremony at the Center, Mr Njie said their role is to ensure that victims are accorded justice; that this will ensure that the process of transitional justice gives the victims the right treatment of the law.
‘We must stand together to see that the victims receive justice,’ Njie said; that the loan will enable beneficiaries to start businesses and support themselves. According to him, if the loan is repaid, it will be used to support others who will also benefit themselves and so on. He advised beneficiaries to be wise in their businesses and save their profits in a Bank account.
On how the loans were given out to the beneficiaries, Njie said they filled forms and were called for interview afterwards. ‘‘During the interview, we tried to see what business plans they have to advise them on how to go about it,’’ he said.
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, Sukai Dahaba thanked the Centre for facilitating the loan for them; that since inception, the Center has rendered benefits to them. She recounted the difficult moments when they jointly sacrificed their lives to ensure that the former dictatorship was put to an end.
‘‘Though we were subjected to severe pains and inhuman treatment, but today we can see the benefits,’’ Dahaba said.
She urged Government not to allow such an experience to repeat itself. On behalf of the beneficiaries, she thanked the Gambians in Sweden for supporting them. She urged Government to ensure that all victims of human rights violations are accorded the justice they deserve.
Ida EK a Swede, said the victims of human rights violations, need the assistance of everyone. She urged Government and philanthropists to offer help to the ‘Victim’s Center’. Reacting to Government’s responsiveness to their needs, EK said there is much to be done to help the victims at that level. ‘‘We need more help from the Government,’’ EK concludes.