Calls For Prosecution of Gambian Strongman in Exile

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK | BANJUL (IDN) — Civil society organizations in The Gambia are turning up the heat on current Gambian president Adama Barrow to prosecute heinous crimes linked to ousted dictator Yahya Jammeh, outlined in a report.

The report on human rights crimes was compiled by the Gambia Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission and was delivered to President Barrow last November. It calls for the prosecution of those who committed a host of serious crimes during the previous administration and is widely believed to specifically name Jammeh and 69 others.

According to the commission, between 240 and 250 people died at the hands of the state or its agents in the period between 1994 and 2017.

A renewed call for accountability was made earlier this month by Gambian and international groups.

The Commission, known by the initials TRRC, said that the names of those whose prosecutions were recommended would be found in relevant sections of the report.

When the report was delivered to President Barrow last fall, Commission Chair Dr. Lamin J. Sise stated clearly that “individuals involved in perpetrating the violations and abuses must be held accountable for their crimes”.

“Even if they didn’t reveal his name today,” commented Reed Brody of the International Commission of Jurists, who works with the former president’s victims, “the Commission left no doubt that Yahya Jammeh was top among the former officials whose prosecutions have been recommended.”

“This report begins the countdown to the day Yahya Jammeh will have to face his victims. Whether it’s in The Gambia or before an international court, it will be very difficult now for him to escape justice,” Brody said.

Witnesses tied Jammeh to the killings and torture of political opponents, “witch hunts” in which hundreds of people were arbitrarily detained, and a sham treatment program that forced HIV-positive Gambians to give up their medicine and put themselves under Jammeh’s personal care. Survivors and former aides also said that Jammeh raped and sexually assaulted women brought to him.

“The results are in,” said Baba Hydara, whose father, the newspaper editor Deyda Hydara, was assassinated in 2004. “We have the truth. Now we need justice, justice for my father, justice for all of Jammeh’s victims, and justice for Gambian society as a whole.”

Jammeh ruled The Gambia from 1994-to 2017. He lives in exile in neighbouring Equatorial Guinea after losing to Adama Barrow in the presidential elections. The president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang, has said that he would “protect” Jammeh from prosecution.

But Equatorial Guinea is said to be bound under international law—including the 1984 UN Convention against Torture to which the country is a party—to either prosecute or extradite alleged torturers such as Jammeh who are on its territory.

President Barrow, elected in 2016 and re-elected in December 2021, has so far not given any indication of his intentions.

Attorney Brody was asked last year by the Jammeh2Justice campaign if he was satisfied with the slow progress toward prosecution.

“So much has already happened,” he said. “Jammeh’s victims are a powerful and visible force, whose stories are now familiar. Organizations like the Victims’ Center, ANEKED and WAVE are giving voice to the demand for justice. Even in Ghana, there is a “Jammeh2Justice” coalition which is forcing the government to act on behalf of their 44 migrants killed.”

“Now everyone knows about the crimes of the Jammeh period.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 25 May 2022]

Photo: Gambians protesting. Source: Global Information Network.

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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