Gambia’s former dictator must be tried without delay, says RSF, hailing government readiness to prosecute
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) hails the decision by Gambia’s government to accept almost all of the recommendations of its Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC). This is a huge step in the fight against impunity for the crimes committed under former President Yahya Jammeh, including crimes of violence against journalists, says RSF, calling for his rapid extradition from Equatorial Guinea so that he can stand trial.
The Gambian government gave this historic undertaking on 25 May when it published a white paper with the findings and recommendations of the report that the TRRC submitted to President Adama Barrow on 25 November,
The government said it accepted 263 of the 265 recommendations in the TRRC report on human right violations during Jammeh’s dictatorship from July 1994 to January 2017. They include recommendations that Jammeh be investigated and prosecuted for the murder of Deyda Hydara, a journalist who was RSF’s correspondent, for the disappearance of another journalist, Chief Ebrima Manneh, for an arson attack on a radio station, and for acts of torture against all the journalists arrested while he was president.
“We welcome the unprecedented decisions taken by the Gambian government,” said Sadibou Marong, the director of RSF’s West Africa bureau. “This undertaking must now be translated into concrete actions. After more than 20 years of repressive media laws, arbitrary arrests, torture and murders of journalists, Jammeh must be tried by Gambian courts or on the basis of universal jurisdiction.”
“We now have a clear road map towards reconciliation, justice [and] reparations,” attorney general Dawda Jallow said at a press conference on 25 May, pointing out that the government had accepted 99.2% of the TRRC’s recommendations.
Jammeh’s 22-year rule was marked by widespread human rights abuses. Hydara, who was AFP’s correspondent as well as RSF’s and who was regarded as Gambia’s leading journalist, was shot dead in his car on 16 December 2004. An army officer who had seized power in a coup, Jammeh was also implicated in the murders of other journalists. Of the more than 100 journalists who were forced to flee the country during his dictatorship, at least 30 have returned since his removal.
The trial of Bai Lowe, an alleged member of the hit squad that murdered Hydara, began in Germany on 25 April. It is the first time that human rights violations committed under Jammeh are being tried on the basis of universal jurisdiction.