GAMBIA ENGAGES ECOWAS ON HYBRID COURT

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By Omar Bah

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice is currently in Abuja, Nigeria where he will this morning engage the Ecowas Commission president, Omar A Touray on the need to establish a hybrid court to prosecute Jammeh-era crimes.

Dawda A Jallow travelled to Abuja yesterday with the Solicitor General and two other senior lawyers. “The delegation will meet and discuss with Ecowas on the establishment of a Hybrid Court and the possibility of The Gambia running it together with Ecowas,” a source at the justice ministry told The Standard yesterday.

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Speaking earlier on West Coast Radio’s Coffee Time, AG Jallow said:

“I am set to meet the Ecowas Commission president on Monday and that would be the formal engagement with their powers to start negotiating how we can partner to set up this hybrid tribunal. If we agree, we will sign a treaty and then we will set up the hybrid court that will receive the indictments from the prosecutor’s office that will be set up very soon,” Minister Jallow said.

But the minister also said, in the meantime, he is discussing with the judiciary and to set up special divisions within the judiciary and the cases that can be heard within the domestic laws can be filed just like the Yankuba Touray case.

International human rights defender, Reed Brody commented on the move. He said: “Creating a hybrid court between The Gambia and ECOWAS could solve a lot of problems. It would allow torture and crimes against humanity – written into the court’s statute – to be prosecuted without facing the bar of retroactivity. The court could be empowered to hold detainees and conduct trials outside of The Gambia, which everyone thinks is best in the case of Jammeh. And it could give victims, who have been at the forefront of the justice struggle, a greater role in trials than they have in Gambia’s system. Perhaps most important of all, it would bring in ECOWAS itself, including countries like Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal whose citizens were killed in The Gambia. It would be difficult for Equatorial Guinea to refuse an extradition request coming from the entire region”.