Will Gambians get justice after Barrow deal with Jammeh Party? | News

with Gambia Upcoming elections December 4th was set to be a close race, and the stakes are high for the victims of former President Yahya Jammeh’s reign who – five years after his historic defeat at the ballot box – have yet to see the perpetrators brought to justice.

The names of officials accused of bearing the greatest responsibility for the gross human rights violations committed during Jammeh’s 22-year rule and who should face criminal trial were submitted to President Adama Barrow last week.

Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) 11 hour presentationA little more than a week before Gambians went to the polls, reviving victims who, after hearing nearly three years of harrowing witness testimonies, frightened from Twice delay report It can be put on the shelf with a change of power.

“Although it is not a flawless process, it is an astonishing achievement that the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission has finally submitted its report,” said Nana Jo Ndo, founder and CEO of victims organization ANEKED, whose father, Saul Ndo, was allegedly forcibly disappeared during Jammeh’s rule. .

However, Ndu expressed disappointment that recommendations for prosecutions have not been announced yet.

“This will unnecessarily prolong the agonizing wait for victims towards closure,” she said, noting that the recommendations are not legally binding.

The government can decide to implement it or not. So, the struggle for justice continues.”

There is uncertainty about how the TRC’s recommendations will be implemented with a change of government, or even whether they will be implemented.

Concern has been growing among victims and human rights activists since Barrow, who had previously promised to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, formed an alliance with Jammeh’s old party – the Alliance for National Reorientation and Reconstruction (APRC) to help him win a second term.

‘The country has gone through a lot’

The PR and Reconciliation Commission has long dismissed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, calling it a witch hunt to persecute Jammeh and other party members, and has recently been pushing a conciliation rhetoric amid speculation that the party has struck a deal with Barrow to grant amnesty to Jammeh, paving the way for his potential return. to The Gambia. He is currently exiled to Equatorial Guinea.

Even if there is no legal basis for the suspected amnesty deal, rights activists believe that the union, if successful, could be a problem in the country’s ongoing transitional justice process. Major reforms, including the repeal of the Jammeh-era constitution, strict press reform, and public order laws have yet to be completed.

Many victims are pinning their hopes on a change of government after years of feeling that their need for speedy justice has been ignored by the Barrow government.

“The whole country has gone through a lot, and we fought hard to get Jammeh out,” said activist Fatoumata Sanding, whose father, opposition activist Solo Sanding, was arrested at a political rally in April 2016 and beaten to death while in detention. Jami’s National Intelligence Agency.

“We are afraid that if this government is re-elected, our fight through the transitional justice system will really be jeopardized and the perpetrators can be left to walk free and the victims’ needs for justice will not be met,” she said.

She warned of the potential for civil unrest if, for example, “the APRC had to grow too big and say and do mischievous things against us, or if Jammeh were to return”.

Yahya Jammeh ruled the Gambia for 22 years [File: EPA]

There is a possibility of a change in power with five others Candidates compete for the highest position. Barrow’s strongest rival is former ally and now archenemy Osino Darboe, 73, who leads the country’s largest opposition force, the United Democratic Party.

Darbo was in prison for protesting the death of Solo Sanding when Barrow was chosen to lead the UDP in his absence. After serving as secretary of state and vice president, Barrow, 56, fired Darbo in 2019 for reportedly refusing to endorse his bid for a second term, after he reneged on his 2016 election promise to step down after three years.

“that they [UDP] It is the party that has suffered the greatest number of abuses under Jammeh’s dictatorship, so one might assume that they will take the necessary steps to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission should they win the elections,” said human rights activist Madi Jouberteh.

wild campaign intervention

Even while in exile, Jammeh caused problems in the lead-up to the elections. Last month, Barrow’s coalition and APRC refused and directed their loyal supporters through an audio recording at rallies to form a “No Alliance Movement” with Mama Kandeh, who is running for the Gambia Democratic Congress.

Jammeh’s interference in the election campaign was a “big setback”, believes Fatou Jani Senghor, executive director of the human rights NGO ARTICLE 19 West Africa. She said that Jammeh’s absence, but who is fully present in the political scene, cast a shadow over the elections.

She worries that this has emboldened Jammeh’s followers and sympathizers, who have remained silent during the Truth Commission hearings.

Jani Senghor, a Gambian national who was instrumental in the diaspora campaign to end Jammeh Hakam while she was based in Senegal, added.

Witnesses on the Truth Commission have linked Jamie to the murder and torture of numerous opponents, a “witch hunt”, a bogus HIV treatment program, the murder of 56 West African immigrants, rape and sexual assault.

Reed Brody of the International Commission of Jurists, which works with Jammeh’s victims, said that although the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission had yet to be made public, “the commission left no doubt that Yahya Jammeh was at the helm of the former officials it recommended for his prosecution.” Presentation of TRRC.

Victims and human rights groups held a public symposium on November 17 to discuss ways to do so justice.

With the campaign reaching its final week, Gubarti said, it was likely to be a “two-horse race” between Barrow and Darboy.

Regardless of who will become the next president of The Gambia, the victim activists are unequivocal that there can be no reconciliation without justice.

“In my case, and many victims feel this way, you can’t force me to reconcile with someone who killed my parents without knowing that they have faced justice. Knowing that they would have faced justice, but There was no political will to make it happen.”

“Bringing Jammeh to justice requires very strong political will, and we’ve seen the opposite with this government,” she added. “It really is a tense moment.”

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