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Friday, December 3, 2021

Abuses committed by former Gambian ruler must be prosecuted, investigation says

BANJUL, Gambia. On Thursday, a commission of inquiry recommended the initiation of several prosecutions in connection with documenting widespread atrocities under the rule of the autocratic former President of the Gambia, Yahya Jammeh.

But the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission did not release its report or the names of the people it recommended for prosecution, leaving it unclear if Mr. Jammeh, who ruled for 22 years before leaving, is included. into exile nearly five years ago, among them. those who may face criminal charges.

In The Gambia, a tiny patch of land on the Atlantic coast of West Africa, Mr. Jammeh’s resignation in 2017 was greeted with jubilation.

But that sentiment has largely given way to disillusionment with the government of his successor, President Adama Barrow, who is running for re-election. Mr. Jammeh and members of his regime were not held accountable, government reform proposals fell through or stalled, and Mr. Barrow formed a political alliance with Mr. Jammeh’s party.

“We expect the President to show some commitment and political will to fully implement the recommendations,” said Sheriff Keegera, chairman of the Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations. “Jammeh must be brought to justice at all costs.”

When asked whether the government would hold accountable those most responsible for the abuse, Information Minister Ebrima Sillah responded by telephone, “I cannot do this,” stating that it would depend on the substance of the report.

The commission reported the deaths of between 240 and 250 people held by the state or its agents, as well as rape, torture, disappearances and witch hunts, its chairman Lamin Sise said at a press briefing outlining the results in Banjul. Capital of the Gambia.

The group held 871 days of hearings, broadcasting them live in unusually public broadcasts of human rights violations. Among the 393 witnesses who testified were a soldier who said he killed a prominent journalist at the behest of the president, and a woman, Fatu Jallow, who accused Mr. Jammeh of raping her.

The Commission has submitted its report to President Barrow, who is to transmit copies within a month to the country’s National Assembly and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

This means it is unlikely to go public before the December 4 presidential election. Among the candidates running against Mr. Barrow is Essa Faal, chief lawyer of the Inquiry Commission.

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Mr. Barrow has garnered the support of segments of Mr. Jammeh’s party, which does not run its own presidential candidate and continues to enjoy significant popular support. Advocacy to prosecute members of the previous government could jeopardize this support.

Information Minister Mr Sillah said the president will have six months to review the report, after which the government will publish a document with its response.

Mr. Jammeh first came to power at the age of 29 in a military coup and pushed through a new constitution, concentrating power in the hands of the president. His reign was marked by corruption and the suppression of political opposition, the press, and LGBT rights. He claimed to be a herbal cure for HIV.

But in 2016, the government held relatively free elections, and Mr Barrow defeated Mr Jammeh, who refused to acknowledge the results. It was only after the military intervention of several neighboring countries in January 2017 that Mr. Jammeh relinquished power and moved to Equatorial Guinea.

The administration of Mr. Barrow was supposed to be a transitional one, putting the Gambia on the path to democracy. But the recommendations of the commission of inquiry into Mr. Jammeh’s finances were only partially implemented, and last year a recently proposed, more democratic constitution was rejected in the National Assembly.

The proposed constitution would limit executive power and limit the president to two five-year terms. The time limit would be applied retroactively to Mr. Barrow, so he would only be allowed one more time.

This left the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission as the only official path left to reconcile with the Jammeh era. Its final report was originally scheduled to be submitted in July, but it was postponed until September and then postponed again.

“We have the truth,” said Baba Khidara, who has long fought for justice in the 2004 murder of his father, newspaper editor Deida Khidara. “Now we need justice. Justice for my father, justice for all Jammeh’s victims, and justice for Gambian society as a whole. “

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

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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