By Yankuba Jallow
Survivors of human rights violations under the Jammeh regime and international human rights lawyers and advocates, have created the ‘Campaign to Bring Yahya Jammeh and accomplices to Justice.
The Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa, Article 19 West Africa, Coalition for Change, The Gambia, TANGO, EG (Equatorial Guinea) Justice, Trial International (Switzerland), Human Rights Watch, Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, Aid-Free World and La Fondation pour l’egalite chances en Afrique, were present at the launching ceremony held at a hotel in Kololi on Saturday, 21st October 2017.
The joint communiqué was read by Fatoumatta Sandeng, daughter of the late Ebrima Solo Sandeng who said the victims of human rights violations during the Jammeh regime and human rights lawyers and advocates, met on October 19th and 20th 2017, in Banjul, to deliberate on strategies to hold ex-president Yahya Jammeh and his accomplices accountable for alleged crimes including disappearances, torture, kidnapping, sexual violence and murder, during his regime. She added that they have decided to create the “Campaign to Bring Yahya Jammeh and his Accomplices to Justice”; that they are all committed to attain their ultimate goal, which is to ensure that Yahya Jammeh, as well as those who bear the greatest responsibility in the crimes of his twenty two year old regime, are brought to trial with all due process guaranteed; that they are aware that before Yahya Jammeh could get a fair trial in the Gambia, the rule of law, political, security and institutional concerns must first be addressed.
She called upon Government to exert diplomatic and political leverage to ensure that Yahya Jammeh faces justice with all due process guaranteed. She further called on the Government of Equatorial Guinea to allow Yahya Jammeh to face justice with all due process guaranteed. In addition, she called on ECOWAS, the African Union, the United Nations and all friends of the Gambia, to support the aspirations of the survivors of abuses by the former Jammeh Government.
She said they are committed to telling the stories of the survivors, supporting the Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations and also ensure that the voices of the survivors are heard at the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission. In addition, Madam Sandeng said they are committed to documenting a strong case against Jammeh and those who bear the greatest responsibility in the crimes committed by his Government, advocating with the Government of The Gambia, ECOWAS, the African Union and the International Community, for justice for victims and exploring all possibilities and avenues for organising a fair trial for Jammeh and his associates.
Following the joint communiqué, some of the victims were given opportunity to narrate their ordeal with the former regime of Yahya Jammeh. Among the victims were Imam Baba Leigh, Amadou Scattred Janneh, Nana-Jo N’down, Ayeesha Jammeh and Ousman Sowe.
Imam Leigh in his emotional narration, said that he received extreme torture when he criticised the former Government on the execution of the 9 inmates. He said he had challenged the Supreme Islamic Council who supported the killings, by calling a press conference and that he made a special sermon against the killings. The worst from his narration was when he was asked to dig and enter his own grave; that he was buried to his chest and was also asked to go to the media (GRTS) to make a confession that he was persuaded by some Gambians one of whom was the Minister of Agriculture, which he said, he declined.
Mr. Amadou Scattred Janneh said he spent an entire rainy season at the National Intelligence Agency headquarters, fondly called ‘bambadinka.’ He cited that Jammeh has some secret detention centres, one of which was the old Airport Terminal at Yundum. He said he spent over 7 months at ‘bambadinka’ only to be later charged with Sedition and Treason.
Ousman Sowe, one of the victims also said that he was one of those under the former President’s treatment program; that they’ve also faced inhuman acts by the authorities of the former regime.
Tutu Alicante, a representative of Justice for Equatorial Guinea (EG Justice), said ex-president Yahya Jammeh lives in a 7 star hotel in Mongomo, amid tight security. He called on people to join hands to advocate for Jammeh to be extradited and tried.
Benedict D Moerloose of Trial International said Ousman Sonko, the former Interior Minister was arrested 9 months ago and he is still facing investigation. He said the Supreme Court of Switzerland has frozen all the assets of Hon. Ousman Sonko.