Key report calls for justice for Jammeh-era crimes

A commission that investigated crimes committed during Yahya Jammeh’s regime in The Gambia is calling for those responsible to be brought to justice. She did not give their name, but the victims do not doubt that the former dictator is among them.

The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on Thursday presented President Adama Barrow with a much-awaited report containing the results of months of investigations and hearings on the Jammeh years, as well as its recommendations on the follow-up to be given to them. noted an AFP correspondent.

The TRCC did not release the contents of the report, but a press release.

“In its report, the Commission identifies and recommends prosecution of those most responsible for gross human rights violations committed against both Gambians and non-Gambians between July 1994 and January 2017,” the years in power by Yahya Jammeh, the statement said without naming a name.

One of the major questions concerns the recommendations contained in this 17-volume document, starting with that on the need or not for the former autocrat now in exile in Equatorial Guinea to be held accountable.

The TRCC recalls the extent of the crimes perpetrated under Yahya Jammeh in this small, poor and landlocked country of West Africa: assassinations, acts of torture, enforced disappearances, rapes and castrations, arbitrary arrests, witch hunts, up to forced administration of bogus AIDS treatment. Between 240 and 250 people died at the hands of the state and its agents, she said.

The release does not say who the report names for prosecution. “I cannot give names,” Commission President Lamin Sise told reporters. But the names appear “explicitly” in the report, the statement said.

The fact that the TRCC is calling for Yahya Jammeh to stand trial is no doubt for the victims, according to Reed Brody, the human rights defender who assisted them and made a specialty of such causes.

The Commission left “no doubt that Yahya Jammeh is at the top of the list of former officials” whom it recommends that they be prosecuted, he said in a statement endorsed by 11 Gambian and international organizations. “The countdown to the day Yahya Jammeh will have to face his victims is on,” he said.

– Death squads –

President Barrow, who succeeded Yahya Jammeh in 2017, assured victims “justice will be done”. “I reassure you all that in six months we will produce a white paper” on the recommendations, he said on receiving the report.

Mr. Barrow has a period of one month to submit a summary of the report to the National Assembly and to international organizations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the UN. He has six months to decide what action to take on the recommendations, according to a TRRC official.

The exercise is delicate for him, even if the deadlines allow him to see it coming, without having to decide before the presidential election of December 4. Mr. Jammeh retains many supporters in his country. His fate is one of the major themes of the presidential campaign.

Mr Barrow is running for re-election and Mr Jammeh is involved in the campaign from a distance.

The TRRC, created in 2017, heard from January 2019 to May 2021 393 witnesses, victims but also former “junglers” (“bushmen”), members of the death squads of the regime, who came to tell during hearings public, sometimes overwhelming, the multiple atrocities committed under Yahya Jammeh. Numerous depositions directly implicated Mr. Jammeh, 56 years old today.

The TRRC had described in an interim 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.

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