Ministry of Justice has re-iterated “commitment” of the new government to
establish the whole truth about the circumstances that led to the killing of
the unarmed students in a peaceful protest by students 18 years ago.
In a statement delivered yesterday, minister of Justice expressed confidence that the long-awaited Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission shall provide a unique opportunity to establish the truth about the many unanswered questions still surrounding “this unfortunate incident.”
At least a dozen students were gunned down in April 2000, when the national students union (GAMSU) led a nationwide peaceful protest against the death and rape of two of their colleagues, respectively, by security personnel.
The students in their demand for justice were met with brute force from armed security personnel who used live bullets to fire at the students. Then government set up a Commission of Inquiry which held the authorities responsible for the deaths and recommended prosecution of perpetrators.
However, Jammeh passed the Indemnity Act, seeking to indemnify all those security officers found guilty of these crimes committed in the name of “national security”. Now, the new government is seeking to set the path that would deliver justice to families of victims and set the stage for a long-awaited healing process.
“We remain hopeful that appropriate lessons will be drawn in order to prevent recurrence of such egregious crimes in this country again,” Minister Aboubacarr Tambadou said in his statement.
The full statement of the Justice Ministry is produced below:
“The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of The Gambia today joins thousands of Gambians and families of the victims in commemorating the 18th anniversary of the killing of unarmed school children in The Gambia.
10/11 April 2000 was perhaps the darkest chapter of the 22 year rule of former President Yahya Jammeh. In broad daylight, gunmen shot and killed numerous unarmed school children who were exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of expression and assembly by protesting the manner of investigations into crimes allegedly committed against two of their colleagues. 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.
The Ministry of Justice stands in solidarity with the victims and their families in condemnation of this senseless and heinous crime against innocent school children.
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. 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.”