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Fighting impunity: The MFWA facilitates meeting between Gambian Government and families of victims

The flag of the Islamic Republic of the Gambia (centre) flying at United Nations headquarters in New York, 14 July 2016
The flag of the Islamic Republic of the Gambia (centre) flying at United Nations headquarters in New York, 14 July 2016

UN Photo/Loey Felipe

This statement was originally published on mfwa.org on 15 November 2017.

As part of efforts to seek justice for victims of abuse under the Jammeh administration, the MFWA and the Gambia Press Union are facilitating the process of engagements between the Gambian government and families of Deyda Hydara, Musa Saidykhan and Ebrima Manneh towards compliance with the judgments of the ECOWAS Court of Justice.

As a first step in this process, the MFWA and the GPU on November 7-8, 2017 facilitated meetings between officials of the Ministry of Justice and families of the victims to discuss the modalities for payment of their compensations.

MFWA Senior Programme Officer (second left) flanked by Counsel for victims (first left), Solicitor General for the State (third left) and son of late Deyda Hydara.

At the meetings, the Solicitor General of the Ministry of Justice, Cherno Marenah, apologised on behalf of the state for the various abuses meted out to the victims. He indicated that the Gambian government through the Ministry of Justice would start paying compensations to the victims by the end of the year.

Present at the meetings were Manneh's parents and sister, Adama Manneh as well as Baba Hydara, son of Deyda Hydara. Musa Saidykhan, who is currently in exile in the United States of America, was represented by his brother, Foday Saidykhan.

A Senior Programme Officer of the MFWA, Vivian Affoah was also present at the meetings together with Hawa Sisay-Sabally, a human rights lawyer who has been hired by the MFWA with support from IFEX to offer legal counsel to the victims.

Prior to these meetings, Hawa Sisay-Sabally submitted a legal position paper to the Ministry of Justice, reminding the Gambian government of its obligations and urging it to comply with the ECOWAS Court judgments.

The representatives of the family thanked the government for putting measures in place to comply with the decision of the ECOWAS Court which the previous administration under Jammeh failed to do, years after the judgments were given and despite several appeals. They also thanked the MFWA and its partners for continuously supporting them in the fight for justice.

"Manneh is my son, but I have people like you (referring to the MFWA) who have been by our side through this struggle. We are very grateful. God bless you," Manneh's father, Sarjo Manneh said.

The meetings come barely one week after representatives of the Ministries of Justice and of Information had stated the new government's commitment to complying with the ECOWAS judgements in the three cases. The declaration of commitment was made at a forum held on November 2, 2017 to mark the international Day to End Impunity for crimes Against Journalists.

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