By Edrissa Jallow
The Deputy Director for Civil Litigation and International Law at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Lawyer Kimbeng T Tah has informed Gainako in an exclusive interview that the Victims’ Reparation Bill is finalized and should be tabled in Parliament in the December 2022 Parliamentary session.
Lawyer Tah who also doubles as the Head of International Arbitration at the MoJ adds that in the first week of November 2022, the MoJ will consult with Victims to hear their feedback on the draft Reparations Bill.
Counsel Tah said the MoJ has informed the National Assembly that the victims’ Bill is among the priorities of the MoJ in the December 2022 Parliamentary session.
MoJ’s “target is to have this Bill passed at the December session…we [MoJ] sent it [draft bill] to parliament and we have told parliament this is one of our priorities,” the Head of International Arbitration said.
The Deputy Director further disclosed that the Minister of Justice, Dawda Jallow has told the victim centre a couple of months ago to provide suggestions for an interim body that would be in charge of paying reparations to victims and also ensure reparation is inclusive to all the victims.
“So, in December if it passes, we can be sure that by January the [interim] body will [be] set up and we start payment,” however, “we cannot control parliament but we are still consulting on it because we finish drafting [the Victims Bill],” said Lawyer Tah.
Victims Center Chairperson Speaks on Submission
Speaking to the Chairperson of the Victims Center, Mr Sheriff Kijera clarified that “the Government is not going to give any money to the victims centre. What we agreed with the government is to write a proposal and send it to the Ministry of Justice. The proposal is going to detail the aspects of the Reparations payments to the Victims. It will focus on creating an Interim Body that is going to start paying reparations”.
Speaking about the funds promised to be paid to victims in 2022 Chairperson Kijera recalled that “the Government of the Gambia has allocated D150 million in this year’s Budget, the money has been lying there without any successor Institution to Implement the Reparations Payment to the Victims”.
“That being the case we had a meeting with the Minister of Justice he advised us to write a proposal about establishing an Interim Body that will start paying the reparations until such time the reparations is enacted in the House of Parliament,” explained the Chairperson of the Victims Center.
Gainako has been following the payment of reparations to victims and published an article scrutinising the 2022 Approved Budget and Revised 2022 Budget detailing how the government’s initial allocation has decreased from D163 million in the approved budget to D100 million in the revised budget. More in the story link below.
Suggestion Proposal Has Been Sent to the MoJ Says Jane Gomez
Communication Specialist at the Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, Ms Jane Gomez has also confirmed to Gainako in an exclusive interview that the suggestion proposal requested by the MoJ has been finalized and sent to the Ministry of Justice about three weeks ago. According to Gomez, the proposal was adopted by several victims-led organizations in The Gambia.
“The proposal was sent about three weeks ago to the Ministry, so we are just waiting to hear feedback from them,” said Ms Gomez.
Going further, The communication specialist noted that the suggestion proposal “was set up basically by different victims led organizations within the country and if anything is to come out of it, it’s basically, all the victim-led organizations in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, National Human Rights Commission, and the Ministry of Finance as well”.
“Basically, the [reparations] is government money, and there has to be accountability, so — this institution [being] put together [will] — be accountable for it,” said Ms Gomez.
Our reporter asked Ms Gomez to highlight what requirements the Ministry of Justice advanced for their submission. In response, Ms Gomez explains that the MoJ requested the Victim Center “to bring suggestions like plan A, B, and C. If plan A doesn’t work, plan B can be attempted or plan C. So, those are the scenario and the Victim led organization came up with and presented it to the Ministry”.
This she said is what the Victim centre is waiting on the Ministry’s reaction to all the scenarios sent.