Tag Archives: Gambia

Here is why Yahya Jammeh is unlikely to face justice soon

Two weeks ago, new allegations were added to a litany of human rights abuses that have been levied against the former president of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh. The exiled former leader, who once infamously claimed that he could cure AIDS with his own secret herbal mixture and spiritual healing techniques has been accused of sexually abusing at least three women at the height of his power.

Then President of The Gambia Yahya Jammeh and First Lady Zeinab arrive at the White House in Washington DC for the US Africa Leaders Summit in 2014. EPA/Michael Reynolds
Then President of The Gambia Yahya Jammeh and First Lady Zeinab arrive at the White House in Washington DC for the US Africa Leaders Summit in 2014. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Jammeh ruled The Gambia with a totalitarian grip for 22 years after seizing power in an army coup in 1994. After he suffered a shock defeat in the 2016 presidential election, he refused to relinquish power. It was only after regional troops mobilised troops on The Gambian border that he fled to Equatorial Guinea. He’s still there.

Since then, allegations of torture, enforced disappearances, freedom of speech violations, and suspicious deaths in government custody have emerged. To get to the bottom of the allegations hearings are being carried out by a Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission set up by the new government.

Under the slogan, “never again”, the Commission has the job of creating an impartial historical record of violations of human rights that took place under Jammeh’s regime. It is hoped that process achieves a number of objectives. These include promoting healing and reconciliation, addressing the impunity of previous members of government, establishing the fate of disappeared victims, allowing victims to tell their account of violations, and to grant reparations where appropriate.

So far, the public has heard from current and former members of armed forces over an alleged counter-coup plot against Jammeh early in his rule. The testimony of those soldiers has been horrific. But even if more victims come forward and speak out, and more human rights violations are revealed during future testimony from both victims and abusers, pursuing legal consequences against Jammeh is likely to prove very difficult, if not impossible.

The problem is one that those pursuing justice against former dictators and human rights abusers have encountered before. After Jammeh lost power, he fled to Equitorial Guinea with the equivalent of more than $1 billion from public funds. Equitorial Guinea is not a signatory to the Rome Statute and has no obligation to return him to The Gambia to face justice. This has left Jammeh’s fate in the hands of the country’s President Teodoro Obiang, a close friend and ally.

The evidence

In one incident an alleged member of the counter-coup was arrested, beaten, stripped naked, shot and stabbed with bayonets. It was then discovered that his body was too tall for the grave that had been dug, so one of the executioners chopped off his legs with an axe.

Three women so far have levied accusations of sexual violence against Jammeh. Two have remained anonymous while one – Fatou “Toufah” Jallow – has agreed to come forward publicly. She is expected to give testimony to the Commission later in the year.

In graphic detail, Toufah explained to Human Rights Watch how she became a target of the president’s unwanted attentions when, at the age of 18, she won a state-sponsored beauty pageant. As part of her duties as a beauty queen, she was called to a meeting with Jammeh, who began to shower her with presents and money. After a sexual attack in the presidential residence, and fears for her future safety, she disguised herself in a burka and fled across the border to Senegal.

Two other women have also made allegations to Human Rights Watch, but they have chosen to remain anonymous. Marion Volkmann-Brandau, the researcher who exposed these allegations, believes that there were many more victims.

Toufah has said that she hopes her revelations encourage other victims to come forward and share their stories. Her plea has been echoed by the Attorney General  who has praised her actions and asked others to speak out.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has not yet examined any allegations of sexual violence. These hearings are due to take place later in the year.

Justice might be elusive

Pursuing legal consequences against Jammeh is likely to prove very difficult, if not impossible. One reason for this is that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission does not have the power to prosecute Jammeh, or any other individual for human rights abuses. Its powers are limited to recommending that the Attorney General acts on cases that can be taken before the courts.

Even if cases are brought, the Gambian government would have to extradite Jammeh from Equatorial Guinea to face trial. Initially, there were hopes that Obiang, who himself has been accused of numerous human rights atrocities, might feel political pressure to return Jammeh to The Gambia to face his accusers. But a recent video of the two celebrating New Year together extinguished those hopes.

At least in the short term, it looks unlikely that Jammeh will face either his victims or consequences for human rights abuses.

Sophie Gallop, Lecturer, Nottingham Trent University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Italy arrests over ‘iron bars attack on Gambians’

Police in Italy have arrested seven people suspected of involvement in an incident last month in which a group of young African migrants were beaten and racially abused.

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Those arrested include two women. The migrants, six Gambians who are under 18, were attacked with iron bars and baseball bats by a group of people who used their cars to stop the vehicle in which they were travelling back to their reception centre.

It reportedly followed an earlier altercation near a beach to the west of Palermo in Sicily.

‘Three’ Gambian protesters killed by police

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Three people have reportedly now died in The Gambia after police shot them while they were protesting against pollution.

Bakary Kujabi and Ismaila Bah died on Monday, while Amadou Nyang, 24, died in hospital on Wednesday, a local campaign group told news agency AFP.

They had been taking part in a protest at Faraba Banta, trying to bring attention to the sand mining industry which they say is polluting the rice fields.

The sand is sold to the mining industry.

Another six people and 16 police officers were injured when violence broke out.

One journalist told campaign group Human Rights Watch police reinforcements arrived and started shooting live bullets at protesters who had been blocking mining traffic – without issuing “a warning or alarm”.

Protesters threw stones at the police, another witness said.

Sabrina Mahtani, West Africa researcher at Amnesty International, said the killings “conjured up painful memories from Gambia’s recent past”.

President Adama Barrow has ordered a “full investigation”.

Five police officers were also detained after the violence.

Over $11m missing as Former leader Yahya Jammeh steps down

​​Over $11m (£8.8m) is reportedly missing from The Gambia’s state coffers following the departure of former leader Yahya Jammeh.

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According to a statement by an adviser to President Adama Barrow, Mai Ahmad Fatty, financial experts were trying to evaluate the exact loss.

Luxury cars and other items were reportedly loaded on to a Chadian cargo plane as Mr Jammeh left the country.

Mr Jammeh has not commented and as of the time of filing this report, Bloomgist has not independently verified the claims.

After 22 years in power, Mr Jammeh flew into exile on Saturday.

He had refused to accept election results but finally left after mediation by regional leaders and the threat of military intervention.

President Barrow remains in neighbouring Senegal and it is not clear when he will return.

However, West African troops entered the Gambian capital, Banjul, on Sunday to prepare for his arrival.

Cheering crowds gathered outside the State House to watch soldiers secure the building.

The Senegalese general leading the joint force from five African nations said they were controlling “strategic points to ensure the safety of the population and facilitate Mr Barrow’s assumption of his role”.

Mr Fatty told reporters in the Senegalese capital Dakar that The Gambia was in financial distress.

“The coffers are virtually empty,” he said. “It has been confirmed by technicians in the ministry of finance and the Central Bank of the Gambia.”

He said Mr Jammeh had made off with more than $11m in the past two weeks alone.

Mr Fatty said officials at The Gambia’s main airport had been told not to let any of Mr Jammeh’s belongings leave the country.

Reports said some of the former leader’s goods were in Guinea where Mr Jammeh had stopped on his journey into exile.

Mr Jammeh is reported to now be in Equatorial Guinea, although authorities there have not confirmed it.

Bloomgist reported that the former leader had initially accepted Mr Barrow’s election win on 1 December, but later alleged “irregularities” and called for a fresh vote.

The move was internationally condemned and the UN-backed Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) issued an ultimatum for him to quit or be removed by force.

SOURCE: The Bloomgist/AP/BBC

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House of Reps’to consider asylum for Yahya Jammeh’

With six days to go until Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh’s constitutional term in office ends, Nigeria’s House of Representatives is to consider whether the country should grant asylum to him.

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Mr Jammeh lost elections last month – and although he initially accepted defeat he has since lodged a case before the Supreme Court requesting the result be annulled.

But the court is unable to hold a hearing until May – as most of the judges come from neighbouring countries – and Mr Jammeh has said he is going nowhere until then.

Nigeria’s President Muhammudu Buhari, as the chief regional mediator, is due in The Gambia tomorrow.


READ ALSO: Jammeh vows to FIGHT any move to oust him


Abdulrazak Namdas, spokesperson of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, told the BBC Hausa Service the lower house will be debating the motion today.


SOURCE: The Bloomgist/BBC

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