By Edrissa Jallow
The Solicitor General and Legal Secretary of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Hussein Thomasi presented a statement on behalf of the Ministry of Justice, Hon Dawda Jallow on Friday 16th September 2022 informing Lawmakers, Victims and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that the One Hundred and Fifty Million Dalasi (D150, 000,000) promised to victims last year should be released by end of December 2022.
The Legal Secretary made this statement during the formal opening of the three-day induction of Parliamentarians initiated by the NHRC and Women in Liberation and Leadership (WILL), focusing on the implementation of the recommendations of the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) which ended on Sunday 18th September 2022.
It could be recalled that in October 2019 the Government contributed fifty million dalasis (D50,000,000) to the TRRC for Interim Reparation and the First Round of Reparations was paid to victims in July 2021. More importantly, on Saturday 16th October 2021 the Ministry of Justice issued a statement promising to pay D150 million to TRRC Victims in 2022.
During the presentation, Mr Thomasi highlighted that the “Government has…earmarked D150 Million Dalasi in this year  budget for victims’ reparations” which was approved by the 5th Legislature but Gainako has been following and realized that the stated fund is yet to be paid to the Victims.
According to the Solicitor General, Government has engaged their development partners “to approach the victims with a view to aid them with [the] technical support they may require to have an accountable process in place to enable them [to] access these funds as soon as possible,” he continues to explain that “the intention of the government is to have these funds released before December 2022”.
The Legal Secretary added that the Ministry of Justice “has written to the Victim Center requesting them to make proposals on how the Budgeted amount could be expedited in Victims Interest” as the Ministry is “aware of the challenges that are being faced by the victim association in coming up with a fair and accountable mode of distribution”.
NHRC Task Lawmakers to Hold Government Accountable on TRRC Implementation
During the opening, the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Emmanuel D Joof, tasked lawmakers to hold the executives accountable for the implementation of the TRRC recommendation while the Commission will monitor the overall process. NHRC Chairperson Joof echoed that the main focus of the induction is to “enhance the understanding of National Assembly members on the TRRC recommendations so that they can hold the Executive accountable for the implementation of the TRRC of Recommendations”.
“Honorable members are made aware of not only the [TRRC] recommendations but also the obligation of the State. The state has taken it [TRRC recommendation] upon itself, to accept, to implement those recommendations, and is the National Assembly that will have to hold the state accountable for this” said Mr Joof.
The Chairperson believes that engaging lawmakers are among the vibrant “key to the Successful implementation of the TRRC” recommendation. He also impressed on Parliamentarians that “the state should be held accountable as the primary duty bearer” and “it is the responsibility of the National Assembly to make sure that the state those that [implement the recommendation and protect fundamental rights]”.
One of the Recommendations of the TRRC Report states “that the NHRC be given the responsibility of monitoring the implementation of the TRRC recommendations and in that capacity reports on the status of implementation and provides an annual report to the National Assembly”.
In response to this TRRC Recommendation (563) “The Government accepts the recommendation of the Commission. The NHRC is an independent body with the statutory mandate to promote and protect human rights. The NHRC is therefore well placed to monitor the implementation of the Report and make recommendations to Government on better implementation as well as report to the National Assembly annually on the status of implementation”.
Below are two pages from the Government’s White Paper on the implementation of the TRRC Recommendations focusing on the NHRC.