Gambia government confirms intention to prosecute ex-president

Gambia’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Dawda A. Jallow, Wednesday confirmed governmental approval to prosecute former President Yahya Jammeh for alleged atrocities. Minister Jallow relayed the confirmation while releasing the government’s white paper on the report of the country’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC).

The TRRC was constituted in 2018 to investigate the crimes and abuses committed during Jammeh’s presidency from 1994 to 2017. During the TRRC investigation, it recorded 2600 statements and testimonies from 392 witnesses within 871 days. TRRC submitted its final report comprising 17 volumes to the President in November 2021, and it was officially released in December 2021. The Ministry of Justice on 9th May 2022 constituted a national discussion to examine the TRRC report’s findings and recommendations.

The white paper recommends the prosecution of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFRPC) Junta members including Yahya Jammeh, Sanna B. Sabally, Edward Singhatey and Yankuba Touray for authorizing the mass & unlawful arrest, and detention and torture of Omar A. Jallow, M. C. Cham and the others held at Fajara Barracks.

The white paper further noted that, in the absence of a national statutory provision to charge individuals for the crime of torture, international law will be used as a framework to initiate charges for torture. Further Gambia’s Prevention of Torture Bill, which is pending before the country’s National Assembly for adoption and when enacted, will provide a legal framework that specifically punishes acts of torture.

Justice Minister Dawda Jallow also confirmed the establishment of a special prosecution office and the government’s intention to establish a court within the existing system. 

The Human Rights Watch, with other civil organizations, wrote a joint letter to Minister Jallow raising concerns about the inclusivity of the administration process on the white paper, requesting to go beyond TRRC recommendations to accommodate sexual and gender violence victims and to adopt or modify legislation concerning the crime of torture.

Sarthak Gupta | Institute of Law, Nirma U., IN

MAY 26, 2022

Source : Jurist

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