By Omar Bah
Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou has said former President Yahya Jammeh will be arrested and charged with the crimes he allegedly committed against Gambians whenever he sets foot in the country.
“If former President Jammeh even comes back to this country he will face immediate arrest and charges of the most serious crime. He will be subjected to an accountability process like any ordinary accused person in this country and no amount of irresponsible talk or political brinkmanship will prevent this from happening,” Tambadou said at the opening ceremony of the legal year in Banjul yesterday.
This is the most emphatic position of the Gambia government on the much talked about intention of former President Jammeh to return home from exile.
The former president and members of his political party have made repeated references to an “agreement” with UN, AU and Ecowas that purportedly gave him assurances that if he left office and the country following his December 2016 election defeat, he would not be prosecuted and could always come back.
But Justice Minister Tambadou warned: “It cannot be now ruled out that human rights violations were committed under Jammeh and those who will be identified by the TRRC will face certain prosecutions in the most serious form. There will be accountability at the highest order and I assure the victims there is now a question of when and not if.
“As leaders we cannot follow public opinion all the time. We have a responsibility to occasionally lead public opinion especially when it comes to matters of justice and the rule of law.”
According to AG Tambadou, history will not judge Gambians kindly if we engage in acts that undermine public confidence in the transitional justice processes and ignore the pains and sufferings of the victims and their families.
“Let those who mock at or use threatening or abusive was against the victims be warned not to test the limit of our democratic tolerance or confuse our respect for the rule of law with weakness. We will not under any circumstances accept the intimidation or harassment of victims and witnesses by anyone,” Tambadou added.
On the Constitutional Review Commission, Minister Tambadou said: “There is no doubt that the concerns of the minority should be taken into consideration as we seek to rebuild the New Gambia through assurances that make them feel protected by the State. How best to achieve that protection and assurance is the subject of intense debate these days. While the expression of divergent views is an intrinsic part of democracy, we must not allow these exchanges to divide us. Christians and Muslims have lived in this country in peace and harmony for generations and it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to ensure that this fraternal spirit is jealously guarded. Now that Jammeh has gone so must all his irresponsible actions that had divided us along sectarian lines. We must not allow his legacies to continue to threaten our cherished peace and tranquility. This country belongs to all of us, Christians and Muslims and so it shall remain. Our democracy must not be allowed to become a tyranny of the majority,” he concluded.
The legal gathering is graced by President Adama Barrow with senior government officials including the country’s legal