Gambia’s justice minister, Abubacarr Tambadou, has promised justice for the victims of a popular demonstration in 2000 that took away lives of 15 students and a Red Cross volunteer.
Victims of the crime for which no one was held accountable in 18 years, said they have felt abandoned by the administration of President Adama Barrow.
However, the justice minister said in a statement issued on Tuesday that the Government is still dedicated to ensuring justice for all the April 10 and 11 victims.
“The Ministry re-iterates the commitment of the new Government to establish the whole TRUTH about the circumstances that led to the death of the unarmed students,” Tambadou said.
“We are confident that, inter alia, the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission shall provide a unique opportunity to establish the truth about the many unanswered questions still surrounding this unfortunate incident. We remain hopeful that appropriate lessons will be drawn in order to prevent recurrence of such egregious crimes in this country again.”
The year 2000 protest was called after a student, Muhammed Barry, was reportedly beaten to death by officials of the Gambia Fire and Rescue Service.
The student was said to have been arrested after he made allegations of rape against an official of the Gambia Fire and Rescue Service.
Under his rule, Jammeh introduced a parliamentary act protecting from prosecution all players in the massacre.
Since the fall of the Jammeh regime in 2016, the authorities are yet to repeal the Indemnity Act which protected the soldiers.
Tambadou said 10/11 April 2000 was perhaps the darkest chapter of the 22 year rule of former President Yahya Jammeh.
“The reaction by the security forces at the time to these peaceful protests was disproportionate and callous. Several survivors of the incident have been maimed for life while others have lived a life of exile in genuine fear of harm to them and their families by Government agents,” Tambadou added.
By Mustapha K Darboe