Abuses Under Gambia’s Ex-Ruler Should Be Prosecuted, Inquiry Says

Abuses Below Gambia’s Ex-Ruler Ought to Be Prosecuted, Inquiry Says


BANJUL, Gambia — Documenting wide-ranging atrocities underneath the autocratic former president of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, an investigative panel on Thursday beneficial a number of prosecutions.

However the Fact, Reconciliation and Reparations Fee didn’t make public both its report or the names of individuals it had beneficial for prosecution, leaving it unclear whether or not Mr. Jammeh, who ruled for 22 years earlier than going into exile virtually 5 years in the past, is amongst those that might face legal prices.

In Gambia, a tiny sliver of a rustic on the Atlantic coast of West Africa, Mr. Jammeh’s fall from energy in 2017 was greeted with jubilation.

However that temper has largely given strategy to disappointment with the federal government of his successor, President Adama Barrow, who’s operating for re-election. Mr. Jammeh and members of his regime haven’t been held to account, authorities reform proposals have failed or stalled, and Mr. Barrow has made a political alliance with Mr. Jammeh’s get together.

“We anticipate the president to point out some dedication, and have the political will to totally implement the suggestions,” mentioned Sheriff Kijera, chairman of the Gambia Heart for Victims of Human Rights Violations. “Jammeh ought to face justice in any respect prices.”

When requested if the federal government would prosecute these most chargeable for the abuses, the knowledge minister, Ebrima Sillah, mentioned by cellphone: “I can not decide to that,” saying it could rely upon the deserves of the report.

The fee reported the deaths of 240 to 250 folks within the custody of the state or its brokers, in addition to rape, torture, disappearances and witch hunts, its chairman, Lamin Sise, mentioned in a press briefing outlining the findings in Banjul, the Gambian capital.

The panel held 871 days of hearings, streaming them reside on-line in an unusually public airing of human rights abuses. Among the many 393 witnesses who testified was a soldier who mentioned he killed a distinguished journalist on the president’s order, and a girl, Fatou Jallow, who accused Mr. Jammeh of raping her.

The fee delivered its report back to President Barrow, who is meant to present copies inside a month to the nation’s Nationwide Meeting and to the United Nations secretary basic.

Meaning it isn’t more likely to develop into public till after the Dec. 4 presidential election. Among the many candidates operating towards Mr. Barrow is Essa Faal, the investigative fee’s high lawyer.

Mr. Barrow has secured the backing of segments of Mr. Jammeh’s get together, which isn’t fielding its personal presidential candidate and nonetheless has appreciable standard help. Advocating the prosecution of members of the earlier authorities might jeopardize that backing.

Mr. Sillah, the knowledge minister, mentioned the president would have six months to overview the report, after which the federal government would publish a doc giving its response.

Mr. Jammeh first took energy at age 29 in a navy coup, and pushed by a brand new structure concentrating energy within the president’s fingers. His rule was marked by corruption and the suppression of political opposition, the press and L.G.B.T. rights. He claimed to remedy H.I.V. with herbs.

However the authorities held a comparatively free election in 2016, and Mr. Barrow defeated Mr. Jammeh, who refused to simply accept the outcomes. Solely after a navy intervention by a number of neighboring nations in January 2017 did Mr. Jammeh relinquish energy, transferring to Equatorial Guinea.

Mr. Barrow’s administration was speculated to be a transitional one, setting Gambia on the street to democracy. However the suggestions of a Fee of Inquiry into Mr. Jammeh’s funds had been solely partially carried out, and final 12 months a newly proposed, extra democratic structure was defeated within the Nationwide Meeting.

The proposed structure would have curbed govt powers and restricted a president to 2 five-year phrases. The time period restrict would have utilized retroactively to Mr. Barrow, so he would have been permitted only one extra time period.

That left the Fact, Reconciliation and Reparations Fee as the one official path left for coming to phrases with the Jammeh period. Its ultimate report was initially scheduled to be delivered in July, however was delayed till September after which delayed once more.

“Now we have the reality,” mentioned Baba Hydara, who has lengthy campaigned for justice for the 2004 assassination of his father, the newspaper editor Deyda Hydara. “Now we’d like justice. Justice for my father, justice for all of Jammeh’s victims, and justice for Gambian society as an entire.”

Saikou Jammeh reported from Banjul, Gambia, and Ruth Maclean from Dakar, Senegal.



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