By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
A victim who testified at the Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), Yusupha Mbye, sought clarification from TRRC Vice-Chairperson Adelaide Sosseh after receiving a cheque payment of D19,000. After covering the TRRC’s press conference on Reparation on Friday 16th July 2021, Yusupha called me to witness him returning his reparations and seek further clarification on his health treatment which has not gone as planned.
The TRRC is a Commission enacted by the National Assembly in 2017 to investigate the human rights violations of the previous President Yahya Jammeh and his regime from 1994 to 2016. The TRRC hearings uncovered that the former President Yahya Jammeh was responsible for ordering the security to crack down on student protesters on April 10 – 11 2000 resulting in the death of at least 14 children and one Red Cross staff.
Yusupha Mbye has been wheel-chair bound since he was fired on his spinal cord by Security Officers during the said student protest. Since then Yusupha has travelled for a number of medical trips, most recently in 2019 when about four victims travelled to Turkey for medical treatment.
According to Yusupha, he was paid a D19,000 cheque yesterday and told that his total reparations due is a total of D100,000. He was also informed that the remaining D81,000 will be paid by the Government or the Independent Institution selected to implement the TRRC’s recommendations.
According to Yusupha, he wanted to make clarification on the purpose of the D100,000 payments because he still had a serious medical condition keeping him wheel-chair bound. He explained that his recent trip to Turkey was not successful because he only received physiotherapy and no operation.
Speaking to Vice-Chairperson Ms Sosseh she reassured Yusupha that the D100,000 planned payments are not to cover his medical treatment. She also explained that the TRRC regulations for reparations stipulate that victims that have benefitted from Interim Reparations will only be entitled to a maximum of D100,000. She reiterated that Yusupha will not be abandoned and that his medical condition will be looked into.
Upon hearing this I questioned the Vice-Chairperson to consider the benefits that Yusupha has received to date given that he spent 1 year 6 months and only received Physiotherapy treatment and no surgery that’s required to improve his health. I explained to her that Yusupha will not be able to receive any significant Operation/ Treatment with the D100,000 recommended by the TRRC.
In response, Vice-Chair Sosseh highlighted that so far this is the support the TRRC can provide. Elucidating the efforts of the Commission, she said significant payments were made to support Victims who travelled to Turkey for medical treatment, however, Yusupha’s treatment was delayed numerous times due to Covid 19. She further explained that given that the TRRC was coming to a close the Commission could not leave him in Turkey after concluding the report and their mandate.
She urged Yusupha to keep the money and reassured him that his health will not be abandoned and “his unique” situation would be recommended for further medical treatment by the Independent Institution identified to carry out the Commission’s Recommendations.
Speaking to Yusupha after the meeting I asked him about his health, reparations and justice.
According to Yusupha “my health is more important than anything else”. Asked what he felt about getting Justice, he responded to say he is ever determined to seek justice.
Asked how much Reparations he considered to be sufficient, he responded to say D10 Million. Queried if he would be willing to address his health personally and be satisfied with the residual compensation if he was given D10 Million and Yusupha responded in the positive that he would be able to settle his health condition and be satisfied with the remaining funds as compensation for wasting 21 years of his life.
Explaining his reasoning for his request Yusupha highlighted that “huge funds are being recovered by other Institutions from the sale of assets belonging to the former President and Dictator Yahya Jammeh”.
Yusupha is wheel-chair bound and in urgent need of support to improve his medical condition. According to Yusupha, the other victims he travelled with to Turkey received better medical treatment, however, his situation has not improved. He is calling on the Government and the general public to prioritise his health and provide him with urgently needed medical treatment.