By Omar Bah
Reed Brody, the American human rights lawyer famous for hunting dictators and bringing them to justice, has said he is not sure that former state guard commander General Saul Badjie will be granted amnesty.
Last week, the former powerful state guard commander Saul Badjie, implicated in several crimes by the TRRC, returned to Banjul from Equatorial Guinea with nearly a dozen personal security details of former president Yahya Jammeh. However, the return of Jammeh’s former strongman is rumored to be part of a deal to grant him amnesty.
But speaking to The Standard yesterday Brody, who successfully worked to bring former Chadian dictator Habrè to justice, said: “The TRRC recommended that Saul Badjie be prosecuted for five cases, including the killing of Mamut Ceesay and Ebou Jobe, the killing of Ndure Cham, the murder of Mustapha Colley, the execution of nine Mile 2 inmates and the killing of Tumani Jallow.
“So he is on the list. There is a process for getting amnesty, but I’m not sure that it would apply to Saul Badjie because he did not make a full disclosure of his acts or express remorse, and even then, he could not be granted amnesty if his alleged acts form part of a crime against humanity. “There are those not eligible for amnesty because their acts form part of a crime against humanity, and those who are eligible,” he said.
Brody said the legal test for whether “a killing forms part of a crime against humanity is whether the perpetrator acted with knowledge of the broader context of the crimes, which would seem to apply to someone like Saul Badjie”.
The TRRC has called for Yahya Jammeh and his henchmen to be brought to justice, it has presented all the evidence linking them directly to murder, torture and rape, and it has even suggested what kind of court should prosecute them.
However, Brody added: “After the powerful public testimonies at the TRRC which deeply impacted Gambians, there is an expectation and a demand, both at home and abroad, that the Gambian government will now deliver justice without further delay for victims who have already waited five years, and in some cases much longer. There is still a lot that needs to be done to get there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Yahya Jammeh in a court sooner rather than later.”
Reed, who is now with the International Commission of Jurists and advises Jammeh’s victims, said the TRRC’s powerful and well-documented report provides the roadmap, but there are still many rivers to cross, and everything depends on political will, in The Gambia and the region, to make justice happen.
“The government needs to decide how to prosecute the perpetrators and if, as the TRRC suggested, it decides to set up a special court with Ecowas or the African Union, it needs to get the court funded and established. In the case of Jammeh himself, regional buy-in, especially from countries like Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal whose citizens were killed in The Gambia, will be key to persuading Equatorial Guinea that it needs to turn Jammeh over. All these could take time, but the victims have already been waiting a long time, and they deserve for the government to move quickly,” he added.