A group of human rights organizations announced Saturday the launch of an international campaign geared towards bringing former longtime Gambian ruler and his accomplices to book.
“We, victims of human rights violations under the Jammeh government and human rights lawyers and advocates, met on 19-20 October 2017, in Banjul, to deliberate on strategies to hold ex-president Yahya Jammeh and his accomplices accountable for alleged crimes during his government, including “disappearances,” torture, kidnapping, sexual violence, and murder,” said campaigners in a statement issued on Saturday.
Mr. Jammeh was voted out of office in a December 2016 presidential elections. His 22-year rule was marred by widespread arbitrary arrests, extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances. The election was followed by a political impasse prompting the regional bloc ECOWAS to deploy troops in the Gambia. This had forced Dictator Jammeh flee into exile in Equatorial Guinea.
Spearheaded by the Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations (GCVHRV), the campaign is also boosted by the Banjul-based Instittute for Human Rights and Development In Africa (IHRDA), Article 19 West Africa, Coalition for Change in Gambia (CCG), TANGO, EG Justice (Equatorial Guinea), TRIAL International (Switzerland), Human Rights Watch, Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, Aids-Free World and La Fondation pour l’égalité des chances en Afrique.
The initiators of the campaign hashtag “#Jammeh2Justice called on the Barrow government “to exert diplomatic and political leverage to ensure that Yahya Jammeh face justice with all due process guarantees.”
Campaigners also urged Equatorial Guinea authorities to facilitate the ousted Gambian leader to stand trial.
One of the organizers of the campaign is Reed Brody who was instrumental in bringing former Chadian dictator Hisséne Habré to book. Mr. Reed told Jollof News that many people thought it was never going to happen. He said the aim of the campaign is to provide a platform for victims of human rights violations to tell their stories. “If we put the stories of the victims in the center, show what happened to the Gambian struggle, then you can create the political conditions, as in the Hissene Habré case, to bring a former African president to court,” hesaid
Reed Brody remains optimistic despite the enormity of the task lying ahead. He then said Jammeh went to Equatorial Guinea because he believes it is a safe place.
“What we want to do is to raise the cost for Equatorial Guinea. We can create a consensus in the African Union and ECOWAS that would make it difficult for Equatorial Guinea to hold on.”
“The goal ultimately is to bring Yahya Jammeh to trial,” he added.
IHRDA Executive Director Gaye Sowe said one thing all of us want is justice. “We would not rest until we get justice,” he reiterated.
The Gambia-based Institute is one of the key players in the quest for justice for the victims of Yahya Jammeh.
Ayesha Jammeh, a relative of former dictator Jammeh whose father was murdered by agents of the tyrannical regime, shed torrents of tears while giving an account of the circumstances surrounding the Haruna Jammeh’s murder.
She gave a poignant testimony on how her family struggled to save appearance despite experiencing many hardships. Ayesha Jammeh added her voice to calls made by many victims for Yahya Jammeh to stand trial.