By Aisha Tamba
The lead counsel at the truth commission has propounded that former president Yahya Jammeh, should be tried for crimes against humanity for the murders and gross human rights abuses he has been accused of during his 22-year rule.
In an impassioned closing statement at the end of the commission’s public hearings on Friday afternoon, Faal who has distinguished himself as both a prosecutor and defendant in high profile cases at the International Criminal Court and elsewhere, argued that at least 214 murders occurred in The Gambia attributed to Jammeh and his forces in addition to enforced disappearances.
“In a small country like The Gambia,” he underlined, “that borders on or smacks of crimes against humanity.”
Mr Faal rehashed the killing incidents including the 11 November 1994 extra-judicial killings of soldiers; the 10 and 11 April 2000 gunning down of unarmed protesting students; the 2005 massacre of West African migrants; the deaths resulting from the 2009 witch-hunts, and even the murder of five members of Jammeh’s family on his orders.
He asserted: “All these things tell me crimes against humanity and the forum to deal with that is not only limited to The Gambia, it could be Ghana, it could be somewhere in Africa, it could be the ICC. So no matter how the people deny, no matter how one can control what may happen in The Gambia, [one] cannot control what happens outside or elsewhere. We have seen Hissène Habré [of Chad]. He ran for 20 something years [but in the end] he had to face the law.
“The other day I saw a publication with the justice dial pointing at Jammeh perhaps that is what needs to happen. We all pray for reconciliation and that is fundamental. That is absolutely important. We all pray for the unity of the Gambian people because we are in one little boat and all of us have to be our brother’s keeper so that we can keep this little boat afloat but that said, there must also be justice. There should be justice for the victims; there should be justice for us as a people because we are all scarred, we are all traumatised as a people because of the dark chapter that happened to us during the 22 years of brutality and disrespect for the Gambian people…
“There may be deniers, yes there are deniers but these numbers don’t lie… I think we have made a good case even for those who are in denial. If they search deep down, they would see that the truth has come out and the truth is Jammeh took us on a wild ride for his own self-aggrandisement. He has to pay the price and those who enabled him also have to pay the price. Justice must be done, it must seen to be done.”
The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC had stated earlier that the crimes committed in The Gambia do not meet the gravity threshold for the ICC to intervene. With the new information unearthed, this may change if the TRRC in its report recommends for Jammeh’s prosecution.