Gambia’s government has been urged to repeal a law that offers sanctuary to security officers involved in the shooting death of at least 14 students who took part in a peaceful demonstration that rocked the tiny West African nation 16 years ago.
Gambian students took to the streets on April 10-11, 2000, to demonstrate against the alleged murder of a student Ebrima Barry of Brikama, West Coast Region, and the alleged rape case of a 13-year-old teenage student of Brikamaba, Central River Region.
In pursuit of justice, The Gambia Students’ Union (GAMSU) that led the demonstration demanded government to investigate the alleged rape and murder cases.
But the demonstrations turned bloody when trigger-happy security officers fired live bullets causing the death of more than a dozen students among them a journalist.
According to the Coroner’s Inquest – a commission of inquiry – the deaths were caused by live bullets from gun shots and only one child died because of stampede which was an accident.
The Initiative for the Promotion of Democracy and Good Governance (IPDG) has called on Gambia’s government to implement the recommendations of the commission of inquiry.
According to IPDG, “it was unfortunate that the Government of The Gambia had dismissed the finding and the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the incident.”
It said: “The Gambia Government rejected recommendation 5, 6,7,8,9 and 10 of the Commission which includes bringing those responsible to book and ensure that justice is done. The government rejected that top police authorities on the ground at Kanifing on April 10, 2000 should accept responsibility for the tragedy.”
IPDG noted that an Indemnity Bill attached to a “Notice of Urgency” from the Presidency was tabled before the National Assembly by the then Secretary of State (Minister) for Interior, Ousman Badjie which was passed to indemnify officers who should be held responsible for actions that led to loss of young lives. The Indemnity Law is an affront to human rights, it said.
IPDG further urged Gambia’s Government to make thorough findings into the plight of the survivors and give them proper medical treatment and required rehabilitation to those who now acquired some form of disabilities as a result of gun shots.
“We further recommend the Government of The Gambia to repeal the Indemnity lawand respect the recommendations of the commission of inquiry, compensate families of victims and apply rule of law by bringing the perpetuators to justice,” it added.
The following lives were lost during that demonstration; Abdoulie Sanyang of Old Jeshwang who died from a stampede and that his death was as a result of an accident; Bubacarr Badjie– student; Wuyeh Fode Mansally – student; Momodou Lamin Njie – student; Calisco Prera – student; Karamo Barrow – student; Reginald Carrol – student; Momodou Lamin Chune – student; Lamin A. Bojang – student; Ousman Sabally – student; Bamba Jobarteh– student; Sainey Nyabally – student; Ousman Sembene – student; Bakary Njie – student; Omar Barrow– Journalist and Red Cross Volunteer.