AI: Gambia must ensure justice over Jammeh-era crimes

The human rights watchdog, Amnesty International has urged the authorities in The Gambia to ensure justice is served for victims…

The human rights watchdog, Amnesty International has urged the authorities in The Gambia to ensure justice is served for victims of 22 years of egregious abuse under former President Yahya Jammeh.AI’s statement comes as Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on Thursday submitted its final report to President Adama Barrow containing 17 volumes.

Amnesty International’s West Africa Researcher Michèle Eken said the TRRC report “must give way to an unequivocal commitment from the Gambian authorities that justice and reparations will finally be delivered to the victims of decades of human rights violations under President Yahya Jammeh’s regime”.

 “For more than 20 years, Gambians who fell foul of Jammeh’s regime were tortured, extrajudicially executed, and arbitrarily held for extended periods. Human rights violations including enforced disappearances, sexual and gender based-violence and attacks on the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly were rampant” the AI official was quoted saying in a statement to APA.

 “Now that the TRRC has submitted its recommendations, the government can bring to light the truth about this dark period in the country’s history and ensure that the victims can receive reparations for what they suffered” she added.

AI said the alleged perpetrators, some of whom are still in the security apparatus should be prosecuted and authorities must ensure that these state-sponsored violations never happen again.

The TRRC report contains details of egregious state-sanctioned human rights violations including rape, torture and execution thought to have taken place between July 1994 when Jammeh was in power and January 2017 when he vacated the presidency after losing an election to Barrow. 

Incomplete sections of the report were blamed for the delay in submitting the final document, the submission of which was originally scheduled two months ago. 

The TRRC took two years to investigate crimes and conducted public hearings where both alleged victims and perpetrators made testimonies about abuses.

Some 400 people had appeared before the commission including witnesses based outside The Gambia.

There were spine-tingling testimonies of torture, rape, killings and forced  disappearances apparently at the behest of the state under then President Jammeh who now lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea.

Testimony after testimony conjured up chilling scenes of killings ostensibly carried out by Jammeh’s hit squad referred to as the Junglers.

There were special hearings on how some 44 West African migrants mostly Ghanaians were summarily gunned down by elements of the Junglers.

The victims were accused of a botched coup against Jammeh who allegedly ordered their execution.

The TRRC which came into being by an act of The Gambian National Assembly was tasked with probing and establishing “an impartial historical record of human rights violations, but to also consider reparations for the  victims of abuses, promote reconciliation and non-recurrence”.

Although the TRRC’s mantra is based on ensuring transitional justice was served  to both victims and perpetrators in the aftermath of its investigations, it is not clear how President Adama Barrow’s government will react to  the report.

Mr. Barrow is expected to pore over the report before coming up with a six-month schedule on how to implement its recommendations which may include prosecuting some alleged perpetrators and compensating victims. 

He may release copies of the report for public consumption including in the country’s National Assembly and international organisations such as the United Nations.



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