By Omar Bah
- Trial International, a non-governmental organization fighting impunity for international crimes and supporting victims in search of justice, has expressed optimism that the prosecution of Yahya Jammeh is now a realistic possibility.
“The Gambian and Ghanaian authorities have both vowed to cooperate and Ghana is now examining whether to move forward with an investigation,” Marion Volkmann-Brandau a human rights coordinator I with Trial International confirmed to The Standard.
She also noted that despite tremendous progress made by the ‘J2J campaign’ on their “Ghana Option” “the challenges are considerable owing to the fact that President Obiang of Equatorial Guinea has vowed to protect Jammeh and recently, we saw footage of the two partying together on New Year’s Eve”.
However, she went on, while the road to justice is long, “the determination of the victims is growing every day and we believe, following the Habré model, the effective mobilization of the victims can create the political conditions which will enable barriers to be broken down and already, in two years, the victims have made the prosecution of Yahya Jammeh a realistic possibility”.
“While advocacy is taking place, investigations into alleged crimes committed by Jammeh are ongoing. The impressive work of the TRRC is very helpful in that regard. This institution is hearing out survivors and creating not just a record but a demand for justice and full accountability. People are watching and all are learning the depths of what was perpetrated,” she added.
She further said the Gambian authorities have also pledged commitment to cooperate with the investigation of a report on the 2005 migrants massacres that identified the Junglers as the killers and was presented to Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo.
“The UN monitors also wrote to the governments of Gambia and Ghana concerning any progress they had made in the investigation of the killings, to “encourage efforts aimed at establishing the truth about what happened” and to ensure “the accountability of any person or persons responsible for the alleged violations,” she asserted.
The Jammeh 2 Justice Campaign, she added, is a continuation of two inspiring stories of victims fighting for justice: the Pinochet case of Chile and the Hissène Habré’s case of Chad.
“In April 2017, victims of the Jammeh regime met with victims of this former dictator who had just been sentenced to life imprisonment in Senegal. After their rich discussions, the Gambians decided to use this successful victim-driven model, to seek justice for their loved ones,” she said.
She said in December 2018, Fatoumata Sandeng and Ayesha Jammeh, who both lost their fathers, went to The Hague, the capital of international criminal justice, to discuss the “Ghana option” at a panel of the Assembly of State parties of the ICC.
Marion said the Jammeh2Justice campaign still believes that the political, institutional and security conditions do not yet exist in Gambia for a fair trial of Jammeh, adding that this opinion is shared by the government of The Gambia as well as by international activists and experts.
In October 2017, a number of Gambian and international NGOs such as the Victims’ Center, IHRDA, TANGO, EG Justice (Equatorial Guinea), Article 19, TRIAL International, and Human Rights Watch (HRW) launched a campaign to bring Yahya Jammeh and his accomplices to justice.