The Gambia’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubaarr Tambadou says the Gambia government welcomes the Unites decision to slap sanctions on former President Yahya Jammeh and Yankuba Badjie, former spy agency chief, with sanctions. Read below Mr. Tambadou’s statement:
Welcome again ladies and gentlemen.
The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of The Gambia welcomes the decision by the Government of the United States through the Treasury Department to include former President Jammeh and Mr Yankuba Badjie and companies associated with them on the recent list of sanctions. The reasons given by the US Government for this latest action includes: “taking a strong stand against human rights abuse and corruption…[by] freezing their assets and publicly denouncing the egregious acts they’ve committed, sending a message that there is a steep price to pay for their misdeeds”.
This latest action by the US Government means that US citizens and companies are prohibited from engaging in transactions with former President Jammeh and Mr Yankuba Badjie and companies associated with them. It also means that the assets of former President Jammeh and Mr Yankuba Badjie found within US jurisdiction are frozen. They are also banned from traveling to the US.
While we commend the US Government for this laudable act, we would like to encourage them to do more and therefore call on the United States to include on this list some family members of former President Jammeh especially his wife Mrs Zainab Souma Jammeh. We of course recognize the fact that this action comes less than a year after Jammeh left power and therefore clearly demonstrates the commitment of the US Government to support the people of The Gambia in their quest for justice.
This latest action by the Treasury Department is the result of cooperation between US authorities and the Government of The Gambia. It underscores the resolve and determination of The Gambia Government to recover every single butut that rightfully belongs to the people of this country and we will not relent until we are satisfied with our efforts. It also underscores the importance of adhering to the rule of law in our actions. It is a tangible demonstration that when we do things in accordance with the law, when we follow due process, we will earn the respect and cooperation of others around the world, and I take this opportunity to reiterate that we shall continue to take the time necessary to ensure that we get it right.
We will continue to work closely with authorities in the US and other countries and organizations around the world to help us trace and recover assets of former President Jammeh, his family members and close associates wherever those assets may be found. In this regard, we wish to thank all those who came forward with information and assisted us in this very complex process, and hereby reiterate our call for more information from the public.
In the same vein, we call upon the international community and all friends of The Gambia including the European Union to also adopt similar measures against former President Jammeh, his family members and close associates and companies associated with them.
On a related development, we would also like to take this opportunity to express appreciation to the US Millenuim Challenge Corporation for recently selecting The Gambia on 19 December 2017 for a Threshold Program.
You will recall that in 2006, the MCC suspended The Gambia’s eligibility for assistance under the Program citing human rights abuses including restrictions on political rights, civil liberties, press freedom and anti-corruption efforts.
The re-instatement of The Gambia’s eligibility for assistance under the MCC Program is therefore a recognition of the commitment of The Gambia Government to correcting each condition for which eligibility for assistance was suspended.
We are encouraged by this endorsement of our efforts and we will continue to draw strength from this encouragement for the fulfillment of the democratic aspirations of our peoples.
OTHER RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
Over the last few days, the Ministry presented and the National Assembly passed 4 critical bills. These comprise: the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission Bill 2017; the Constitutional Review Commission Bill 2017; and the National Human Rights Commission Bill 2017. When the enactment process is complete, we will begin the implementation phase of these important national projects. We will in the next few days provide more detailed information on key aspects of these commissions and issue guidelines on the method of appointments for public information and participation in these processes.
The fourth bill passed by the National Assembly is the Constitutional Amendment 2 Bill which amends Section 194(c) of the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia to allow for the direct election of Chairpersons of local government authorities across the country. As you may be aware, Section 194(c) (before the amendment), allowed for the direct election of Mayor, and only made provision for the election of Chairpersons from amongst Councillors. The Government believes that this is discriminatory in both form and effect and the objective of the said amendment is to remedy this anomaly. This constitutional amendment is also necessary at this time in view of the forthcoming local government elections early next year and is consistent with the Government’s desire to empower the people of this country to choose their political leaders without unnecessary restrictions
As part of our consultative approach and the need to encourage inclusiveness in order to strengthen our processes, the Ministry has just concluded, with the assistance of the UNDP, a two day National Conference of Gambian Lawyers which brought together lawyers with the following key objectives:
• to provide a national forum for interaction between Gambian lawyers from the diaspora and those who have been working inside the country to discuss and share ideas on pertinent rule of law and constitutional issues affecting the Gambia;
• to encourage and build professional engagement and intellectual collaboration among Gambian lawyers at home and abroad and set out programs for the future;
• to encourage Gambian lawyers living abroad to support the process of legal and constitutional reforms; and
• to initiate a forum that will promote greater awareness and dialogue on contemporary legal and judicial issues in The Gambia.
We are pleased with the outcome of this conference and were particularly honoured by the presence at the conference of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Mrs Fatou Bensouda, and Mr Pa Edi Faal. The Ministry will continue to engage all relevant sectors in our drive to ensure the best possible outcomes in all our activities.