Civil society activists in the Gambia are intensifying calls for the repeal of the Indemnity Act, a controversial legislation shielding those responsible for the students massacre in April 2000 from being prosecuted.
The move comes in the wake of the commomeration of April 10 -11, which has been marked by a full-scale repression that has left 16 students and a Red Cross volunteer dead.
“The Indeminity Act should be repealed. The Act exonerated security officers and public officials for their role in the massacre,” said TANGO Program Manager Madi Jobarteh, during a presser held on Wednesday at their headquarter in Kanifing.
Jointly organised by The Association of Non- Governmental Organisation (TANGO) and April 10-11 Memorial Foundation, the commemoration of these two fateful days are aimed at helping Gambians to memorialise what many observers have described as the ‘darkest days’ in the country’s political history. Survivors and victims’
familles have been pushing for justice for nearly two-decades, and they hope to ignite debate about their plight.
Madi Jobarteh said the government should go beyond lip service on April 10-11 issue, and address the plight of the victims.
“We are severely concerned that 13 months down the line, the Indemnity Act still remains the same, and the condition of the victims has not changed,” he deplored.
He decried the fact there is no serious public effort to honour victims rights and address their needs.
Jobarteh announced that civil society are going to adopt an action plan, geared towards making sure the Indemnity Act is repealed, and victims concerns are addressed.
Sainey Senghore, one of the victims who took a bullet in the leg during the sad events, made it clear that they will not be silent until justice is done. He then lifted a corner of the veil on the situation they went through during their medical treatment in Egypt, saying the Jammeh regime only paid for one month while the two other months were paid by an Egyptian doctor.
Touma Njai, PPP Parliamentarian for Banjul South, said she was an eye witness of the dramatic moments that followed the student massacre.
“The wrongs must be rectified,” she said while indicating that our conscience must be clear. She committed herself to do her utmost best in order to rally support in the National Assembly for the 17-year-old legislation to be repealed.
Renowned Gambian activist Banka Manneh reminded the gathering that April 10-11 victims were fighting for our rights. He went on to denounce the attitude of the current government towards the victims, saying they don’t care about their plight.
Ousainou Mbenga, an emblematic figure of the Democratic Union of Gambian Activists (DUGA), said former Gambia’s longtime ruler should never have returned to Gambia after the killing of defenseless students. He called on civil society groups, victims to be more organised.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, TANGO called on President Adama Barrow to place before the country’s lawmaking body a bill to repeal the Indemnity Act 2001 by the next législative session in 2018.
Written by Abdoulie JOHN