The conviction and sentencing in Germany of Bai Lowe, one of the members of former President Yahya Jammeh’s death squad, the Junglers, has been welcomed here as the beginning of some semblance of closure for some of the numerous victims of the Jammeh regime. It is however seen by many people as a very small step on a very long and winding road to justice for the victims, including the late Deyda Hydara.
Lowe, who was said to be a driver for the Junglers, was found guilty for the murder of Hydara, managing editor and co-owner of The Point newspaper, who was assassinated exactly 19 years ago, and whose family and friends, like many of the other victims, are still waiting for justice.
According to evidence adduced at the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), that wound up in 2021, Hydara’s assassins were driven by Lowe. Therefore, he was convicted as a mere an accomplice but the real killers are still walking free in this country and elsewhere.
However, while Lowe”s conviction is a step in the right direction, which we should all hope would culminate in the eventual conviction of those who pulled the trigger for Hydara’s killing as well as those who ordered them to do so, including former President Jammeh himself, but the extremely slow wheels of justice in this country seem to indicate that we are still quite far from that objective. In fact, it has been alleged that the German judge in his ruling accused the Gambian government of failure to cooperate with his court in facilitating the appearance of some of the witnesses, which is a serious indictment for the government which claims to be committed to pursuing justice for the victims.
Indeed, everyone concerned about justice for the victims seems to question why it had to take a German court to try and convict one of the perpetrators of the numerous heinous crimes alleged to have been committed in this country.
“The very fact that the first and so far only conviction of the perpetrators of those heinous crimes committed by the Jammeh regime happened in Germany instead of the Gambia, is clear indication of our government’s apparent lack of commitment to pursue justice for the victims,” said one irate family member of a victim.
It has been more than two years now since the TRRC submitted its report to President Adama Barrow and in 2022, the government issued its white paper, accepting virtually all the recommendations. However, their failure to so far not only implement most of those recommendations, but to allow some of the alleged perpetrators of those crimes to still walk the streets as free men with their alleged victims, is seen by some of the victims and their families as the height of insensitivity.
While the government of President Barrow may have lacked the adequate financial and human resources to implement the TRRC recommendations, but it certainly should not have taken this long to mobilize the necessary resources to carry out the most urgent recommendations, which of course include trials of those who bore the greatest responsibilities for the crimes committed against the people of this country. It is beginning to exactly smell like the old adage; “justice delayed is justice denied.”