Baba Hydara, son of the murdered journalist Deyda, has wrapped up his testimony at the ongoing trial of Bai Lowe, who is accused of taking part in the killing.
Addressing the court for the last time in Germany, Mr Hydara stated:
“I bring warm greetings to this November Court and all those concerned with this matter from my family and The Point Newspaper.
I should first of all thank the Almighty God for making it possible for this trial to take place and for Justice to be achieved for the assassination of my father Deyda Hydara .
My father was targeted by Yahya Jammeh using his kill squad ‘the junglers’ for his service to the Gambian people, because as a journalist he refused to be silent.
Each week in his column ‘Good Morning Mr President’, he spoke critical about what was wrong in the country. He knew it was dangerous, he told us so. And he was right. On December 16, 2004 almost 20 years ago, a team of juglers that included the defendant Bai Lowe killed my father in cold blood.
I speak to you today not only on my own behalf, but on behalf of all victims in Gambia and around the world. I can’t mention everyone but I feel the need to mention a few if I may be permitted.
The families of Ousman Sillah, and of Dawda Nyassi, who are also victims of the crimes before this court.
I also speak on behalf of Martin Kyere, a Ghanian survivor, who testified before you during the trial about the defendant’s role in the killing of some 59 West African migrants, a role which the defendant admitted in his interview with Pa N’Derry Mbai.
Martin miraculously escaped just before the Junglers killed his companions. When he got back to Ghana, he went from village to village to find the families of the people who had travelled with him and engage them in the search for justice.
I speak to you on behalf of Ayesha Jammeh, whose father, Jammeh’s cousin Haruna Jammeh, was also killed by the Junglers, as the defendant also described in his interview with Pa N’Derry. Ayesha is one of the active and outspoken leaders in our fight for justice
I speak to you on behalf of my mother Mariam Hydara, my sister Kumba Nellie Touray, My sister Marie Pierre Hydara, my brother Ismaila Hydara and my youngest brother Vieux Deyda Hydara. Like me, they have been left without a father, like me, they have been campaigning for justice.
And finally, I speak on behalf of all the victims of Yahya Jammeh’s brutal regime.
For 22 years, Yahya Jammeh ruled my country with an iron fist and used the state machinery as a weapon of oppression against the citizenry, employing extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, sexual violence, torture, and arbitrary arrests.
When Jammeh fled The Gambia, we victims and civil society in the Gambia and the diaspora set up the Gambia Centre for victims of human rights violations.
And subsequently the establishment of ‘Jammeh2Justice’ which coalition of national and international rights groups.
Unfortunately the movement towards justice has endured slow progression since Jammeh’s fall, The Gambia has only moved forward with two prosecutions for Jammeh-era crimes.
In Gambia, the government established a Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) which concluded in 2021 that Jammeh and his henchmen committed crimes against humanity and called for their prosecution but it took until this year for the government to present a plan calling for the creation of a Special Prosecutors’ Office to complete the investigations initiated by the TRRC followed by a special Gambia-ECOWAS hybrid tribunal to carry out prosecutions of the most serious offenses.
But we are yet to see these plans implemented.
Therefore this case, miles away from The Gambia, far from where the crimes were committed, far from where my father was killed, is so important to us.
Almost 20 years after the murder, this case is the first time anyone has been ever charged for the crime..
In addition to this case here in Celle, two other Jammeh accomplices are facing trial outside of Gambia. The former interior minister, Ousman Sonko, one of the men whose names are on so many crimes in my country, will go on trial in January in Switzerland. Another former Jungler, Michael Sang Correa, will go on trial next September, in the United States. They all thought they could run away from their crimes.
This verdict under universal jurisdiction sends a strong message to such murderers that they might be able to run, but they can’t hide.
These cases also send a strong message to Jammeh’s victims and their families, that their lives matter and that the crimes committed against them matter.
The verdict will also send a strong message to the Gambian government, that it is time for justice, that the criminal investigations needs to begin in Gambia, that victims should not have to go abroad to seek redress, and that it’s time for Yahya Jammeh himself to face the book.
Honorable judges, I know that the defendant ‘Bai’ Lowe was not the one who planned the killing of my father, that he was only a
little man. I know that it was Jammeh who wanted my father killed, who gave the orders to the murder, and who rewarded the Junglers after they executed the plan. And we will not rest until Yahya Jammeh himself is brought to justice.
But this court can begin, through it verdict by holding this defendant accountable and restoring the faith of many victims.
I might add some things about universal jurisdiction
In this historic legal matter, the contribution of Germa Government cannot be overemphasized. The Judiciary and the German authorities have created an environment conducive for a fair trial. As this Court is about to deliver justice in this matter, I must say I and my family, as well as The Point Newspaper, are pleased with the administration of the case and the assistance given us during the whole process.
In conclusion, this trial will bring hope, I believe, to many other families that have been victimized and oppressed in many other countries in the world. I want to say to them: you are not alone, justice might seem impossible, the road too long and lonely , the journey too hard, but when we stand up and speak up justice can prevail.
May the Almighty God bless you all abundantly and reward you with the blessings of truth and justice.”