Gambia: Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission recommends prosecution of ex-dictator Yahya Jammeh

The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRCC) which investigated in The Gambia the crimes committed during the twenty-two years in power of dictator Yahya Jammeh recommended, Friday, December 24, in a report, legal proceedings before an international tribunal against the leader and several possible accomplices. The commission wants a trial « In a West African country other than The Gambia, under the aegis of the Economic Community of West African States [Cédéao] and / or the African Union ”, for in particular « Murders, arbitrary detentions, disappearances ».

This tribunal could be similar to the one which tried in Senegal the former head of state Hissène Habré, who ruled Chad from 1982 to 1990. Mr. Habré, who died in August of Covid-19, had been sentenced to prison for life in 2016 by an African court for crimes against humanity, rape, executions, slavery and kidnapping.

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“Senegal has [toujours] in place the necessary infrastructure which had judged Hissène Habré. Ghana is another option ”, as well as Sierra Leone, says the report of the Commission Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations, presented Friday in Banjul by the Minister of Justice Dawdu Jallow. “During a period of twenty-two years, from July 22, 1994, Yahya Jammeh and his colleagues [membres de l’APRC, le parti présidentiel] and other co-perpetrators perpetrated serious crimes in The Gambia ”, says the report.

Between 240 and 250 people died

The seventeen-volume document was handed over to President Adama Barrow on November 25 by the Commission, which had not published its content. The TRCC reported on the extent of the crimes perpetrated under Yahya Jammeh in this small, poor and landlocked country in West Africa: assassinations, acts of torture, enforced disappearances, rapes and castrations, arbitrary arrests, witch hunts, until the forced administration of a false treatment against AIDS. Between 240 and 250 people died at the hands of the state and its agents, she said.

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The commission, created in 2017, heard, from January 2019 to May 2021, 393 witnesses, victims and former junglers (“Broussards”), members of the regime’s death squads, who came to recount the regime’s atrocities during sometimes overwhelming public hearings. Numerous depositions directly implicated Mr. Jammeh.

Justice Minister Jallow said the Gambian government was « Committed to implementing the recommendations of the report ». He reaffirmed the announcement already made by the government to publish « A white paper » on these recommendations no later than May 25, 2022.

« A lot of pressure in The Gambia and abroad »

« After the powerful public testimonies before the TRRC which deeply touched the Gambians, there will be a lot of pressure in The Gambia and abroad, for justice to be done without delay for the victims who have already waited five years and sometimes more. long time « said Reed Brody, an American lawyer involved with the victims.

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The TRRC report comes two weeks after the re-election of President Adama Barrow, whose election in 2016 ended more than twenty years of dictatorship. Speaking on prosecutions of perpetrators in the Jammeh years, Mr Barrow had on December 7, when his re-election was announced, said: “I’m part of the decision, but it’s not entirely my decision.  » The decision will be taken in consultation with his government and after consultation with experts, he said. Mr Barrow has six months to speak.

The TRRC had qualified in a progress report published in April 2020 the human rights violations under Yahya Jammeh as « Massive, appalling and diverse ». After the presidential election at the end of 2016 won by Mr. Barrow and six weeks of a twisting crisis caused by Mr. Jammeh’s refusal to cede power, the latter had finally had to leave the country for Equatorial Guinea, under the pressure of ‘a West African military intervention and following a final Guinean-Mauritanian mediation.

The World with AFP

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