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City of Banjul
Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Letter : The APRC resurgence and the Babili audiotapes

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Dear editor,

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Now they want to politicize the Victims Center which was designed to complement the TRRC. They are weaponizing guilt politics in an attempt to delegitimize APRC’s party politics and demoralize Barrow’s administration in the process. The APRC as a party were never engaged in human rights abuses as evident in almost all testimonies at the TRRC. Jammeh is already subjected to justice through the TRRC. Therefore, the sensational activism is just another distraction. It is also redundant if not downright subversive to the transitional justice agenda that The Gambia government has already put in place.

Protesting is not a profession nor a calling but a weapon for the weak at best and a recipe for social chaos if not constrained. The Gambia does not have the luxury to be engaging in endless protests on demand nor does the society possess a durable social fabric to sustain such divisive politics that rips the country into factions. The country is now at the very precipice of going haywire and ungovernable thanks to all these factions of fury in the guise of free speech and human rights. Barrow is once again in an unenviable position of walking a fine line between national security interests of the state and the mob demands for rights to distract, destabilize and demoralize legitimacy.

Bringing former President Jammeh to “justice” is an unambiguous process enshrined in the Gambian constitution:

(3) After a President has vacated the office or President-
(a) NO COURT may entertain any action against him or her in any civil proceedings in respect of any act done in his or her official capacity as President;

(b) A CRIMINAL COURT shall only have jurisdiction to entertain proceedings against him or her in respect of acts or omissions alleged to have been perpetrated by him or her while holding office as President if the national assembly has resolved a motion supported by no less than two-thirds of all the members that such proceedings are justified in the public interest.

Now this is a near impossible feat to achieve for any career politician, and President Barrow cannot afford alienating the APRC right now if he ever wants to get re-elected in 2021. He must play conciliatory politics and set a credible agenda for reconciliation with the APRC. Sorry President Barrow, you have run out of options and the clock is ticking fast. You either seize the opportunity right now and control the narrative of Yahya Jammeh’s re-integration to the Gambia or do nothing and bumble your way into a wild horse race presidential election in 2021. In that case you may very likely experience your worst nightmare: an APRC rebound.

The testimonies during the TRRC are allegations against Jammeh by some who have already confessed to committing crimes. They are yet to be proven in a court of law beyond reasonable doubt. Yahya Jammeh shall, in all possible worlds, deny all of them. There are two key legal concepts that are going to be crucial to the inevitable failure of future attempts to successfully prosecute Yahya Jammeh: plausible deniability and command responsibility. Jammeh can easily claim the former because so far there is absolutely no evidence confirming that Jammeh directly participated in any murder even if he was involved in some manner. If he chooses to shift blame on the direct perpetrators then it shall be impossible to secure a conviction. The concept of command responsibility on the other hand puts Jammeh in the chain of events of everything that happens under his watch but the degree of his complicity is also insufficient to find him guilty of the actions committed by others at the lower end of the national security command structure. He was never present at the operational planning or tactical executions of any of the murders.

Ebou Jallow

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