In a 14,000-page report presented to President Barrow it describes the nearly 400 people who have been tortured, killed and raped.
A long-awaited report on the atrocities that took place during the 22-year rule of former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has called on the government to prosecute the perpetrators.
Activist groups have been pushing for more criminal charges, including the use of murderous gangs and rape, which took place during Jammeh’s tenure, which ended in 2017.
A 14,000-page document was presented Thursday by the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) to President Adama Barrow, just nine days before the presidential election, while exiled Jammeh urged his supporters to vote against the opposition.
“Forgiveness and forgetfulness without punishment for wrongdoing … will not undermine the relationship and cover up serious wrongdoing,” the TRRC said in a statement.
The group’s findings come after more than two years of Jammeh’s trial. About 400 witnesses gave alarming evidence of government-sanctioned torture, assassinations, rapes and “witch hunts”, often in the hands of “Junglers”, as Jammeh’s military unit is known.
“I assure (the victims of their families) that my government will ensure that justice is done,” Barrow said in a statement, “but I urge them to be patient and allow the law to take effect.”
Malick Jatta, an army officer close to Jammeh, said the former president paid more than $ 1,000 each to members of the security forces who assassinated newspaper editor Deyda Hydara in 2004, according to Reuters. Sergeant Omar Jallow told the council that in 2005, Jammeh ordered the execution of 59 unarmed refugees who Jammeh thinks are coming to defeat him. Fatou Jallow, the winner of the 2014 beauty pageant, testified that Jammeh raped her when she was 19 years old.
Jammeh, who fled to Equatorial Guinea after refusing to accept Barrow’s defeat in the 2016 election, has previously denied wrongdoing.
“There is a desire among human rights lawyers to see Yahya Jammeh, now free and living in exile in Equatorial Guinea, to look for justice in the crimes he committed during his tenure,” said Nicolas Haque of Al Jazeera, who quoted above. at The Gambia.
“There is more freedom for people to express their views than in Jammeh’s time, but there is a perception that people now want to do more than just express their grievances – they want to see laws enacted and justice done.”
At a press conference, TRRC Chairman Lamin Sise declined to comment on who should be charged. Barrow or his successor will have six months to decide how to respond to the report. It could be the basis for lawsuits against Jammeh and others.
Even if Jammeh is found guilty, he will not be punished. Under Gambian law, a former president cannot be held liable unless parliament approves a two-thirds majority.
Civil rights groups, who are eagerly awaiting the report, were pleased with the news that TRRC has encouraged human prosecution.
Reed Brody, a human rights lawyer who worked with the victims in Jammeh’s time, said “there is no doubt that Yahya Jammeh is at the top of the list of former anti-government activists.”
Amnesty International also said in a statement that The Gambia should prosecute the perpetrators to ensure that “state-sponsored human rights violations do not happen again”.
Despite the number of cases Jammeh faces, the 56-year-old has a large following in Gambia. Many followers are insisting on their return from exile.
His influence has been crucial in the run-up to the presidential election on December 4 – the first since Jammeh’s departure.
Jammeh spoke at a campaign rally this month, saying Barrow had “rigged” the 2016 election.
Barrow, for his part, sought a coalition with the Jammeh party of the APRC in September, which some see as a viable option.
Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. But Jammeh rejected the election manifesto, which he said was made without his knowledge, and his supporters formed a rival party.
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