Friday, December 8

Urgency for Victims Reparations Bill is room for embezzlement: Hon Touma Njai

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“The urgency with which the president brought forward this bill has been misused and abused,” she argued. “Love the bill but not the way it is presented to us as representatives. The reason for it being an emergency has been abused. The Assembly is yet to determine how much is made from the sales of the former president’s assets; therefore, I believe the reason for rushing this bill is a way to create room for more embezzlement.”

Hon. Touma Njai’s argument came on the heels of tabling of the Victims Reparations Bill by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Dawda A. Jallow. The Bill has been read the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd times.

“Yes, the bill is crucial for the community, but it should follow the correct procedure. My stance on this bill is for it to return to the various committees of the house to give proper compensation to victims. This is why I voted no to the bill to be treated as a matter of urgency,” she told fellow lawmakers.

Hon Alfusainey Ceesay, the Member for Sami Constituency, said laws cannot be made without involving the affected people “because we are all aware that there are victims who did not pass through the TRRC. Therefore, the bill needs to pass through committees where victims will be directly engaged for proper implementation.”

The Member for Serrekunda West, Hon. Madi Ceesay, also noted that the bill needs more interface engagement rather than urgency, justifying that “the bill had been lying down for seven years and it had not been brought forward. He added that the bill should have been at the Assembly a long time ago.

Majority Leader and Member for Kantora, Hon. Billay Tunkara, said the bill is timely and it is a learning process for The Gambia for the ‘Never Again’ syndrome.

Deputy Speaker Seedy Njie argued that there was no matter more urgent than this bill. “Victims need to be compensated and perpetrators need to face justice”

“This matter is long overdue. The objective of the TRRC was to allow victims to be heard and we heard some victims complained of not being called to TRRC.  This legislation is intended to address those issues and other loopholes to ensure every victim that deserves compensation be compensated.”