Tag Archives: Yahya Jammeh

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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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.


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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Election Live – Surprise in Gambia as Adama Barrow beats president Yahya Jammeh

Early results from Gambia’s presidential election give opposition candidate Adama Barrow the edge over President Yahya Jammeh, reports say.

Mr Barrow has energised the opposition
Mr Barrow has energised the opposition. Photo: REUTERS/BBC

The BBC’s Umaru Fofana in The Gambia says he has confirmation that Mr Barrow has won the capital Banjul:

However less than 15% of the ballots cast by nearly 890,000 registered voters have so far been counted, AFP news agency reports.

Soldiers and police officers have this morning been setting up checkpoints every few hundred metres on the outskirts of the capital, the news agency says.

The government shut down the internet and blocked international calls while the election took place.

Mr Jammeh who has ruled the country since 1994 after a coup, is seeking a fifth term in office.

President Jammeh at a polling station yesterday
President Jammeh at a polling station yesterday. Photo: REUTERS/BBC

Mr Barrow, an estate agent who, according to British news reports, was once a security guard in the UK high street store Argos, has generated fresh enthusiasm among opposition supporters.

Barrow ‘leading’ after 39 of 53 constituencies declared

Consultant Jeffrey Smith says the election will be decided by voters in the constituency of Serekunda-West.

Serekunda is the country’s biggest urban centre and is situated a few miles southwest of the capital Banjul.

Gambians celebrate Barrow ‘victory’

Some people in The Gambia are celebrating on the street because they believe that the opposition candidate Adama Barrow has defeated longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh in the country’s election.

Corespondent in The Gambia said Mr Barrow was in the lead with more than half the results in.

BREAKING: Jammeh ‘to concede’

The head of The Gambia’s electoral commission says President Yahya Jammeh is to concede defeat in Thursday’s election.

He said it was unprecedented for a Gambian head of state to accept defeat before the announcement of the final results.

There has been no word so far from Mr Jammeh who had been trailing the opposition leader Adama Barrow in partial results. Mr Jammeh took power in a coup in 1994.

Who is Adama Barrow?

  • Born in 1965 in small village near the market town of Basse, eastern Gambia
  • Moved to London in the 2000s, reportedly working as a security guard at Argos department store in north London while he completed his studies.
  • Returned to Gambia in 2006 to set up his own property company
  • 51-year-old wins nomination to lead coalition of seven opposition parties against President Jammeh
  • Criticises the lack of a two-term limit on the presidency and condemns the jailing of opposition politicians
  • Promotes an independent judiciary, freedom for media and civil society
  • Says he will introduce a three-year transitional government made up from members of the opposition coalition if he wins

Jammeh ‘has recorded concession video’

A reporter with the UK’s Guardian newspaper in The Gambia is tweeting details about the breaking news that President Jammeh is to concede to opposition leader Adama Barrow.

She says that a video of his concession speech is being prepared:

It’s really unique’ – electoral commission chief

President Yahya Jammeh is reportedly conceding defeat after ruling The Gambia for 22 years.

The chairman of the electoral commission, Alieu Momar Njie, had this to say:

It’s really unique that someone who has been ruling this country for so long has accepted defeat.”

Jubilation on the streets of Serekunda

Gambians in Serekunda, the country’s biggest urban area, have been celebrating Adama Barrow’s victory:



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Gambians are due to head to the polls to choose a president with Yahya Jammeh seeking a fifth term in office.
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